A Nepalese expedition company whose client died after reaching the summit of Mount Everest in 2012, said installing a ladder near the mountain's peak may prevent the conditions that led to one of the deadliest days on the roof of the world.
Asian Trekking client German doctor Eberhard Schaaf , 61, a sports doctor from the western city of Aachen, was one of four people who died in overcrowded conditions on their way down from Hillary Step, an almost vertical, 40-foot cliff 100 feet below the summit, on the weekend of May 19, 2012.
"Most of the traffic jams are at the Hillary Step because only one person can go up or down," Dawa Steven Sherpa, Managing Director of Asian Trekking and organizer of Eco Everest Expeditions, told the Guardian. "If you have people waiting two, three or even four hours that means lots of exposure [to risk]."
They were reportedly held up for four hours at the Hillary Step at 28,750 feet, forcing them to extend their climb and use up precious oxygen, the Sun. They are believed to have suffered exhaustion and altitude sickness.
To prevent another disastrous climbing season like 2012, Dawa Steven came up with an idea: install a ladder on the famous Hillary Step.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, Dawa Steven's father and founder of Asian Trekking, one of the biggest agencies in Kathmandu, has proposed lashing two aluminum ladders to the final stretch of the world’s highest peak to ease the traffic jam to the top, according to the Star.
The ladders would span the final three metres (about 9.84 feet) of the Hillary Step, Tshering told the Star.
The plan has received support from Frits Vrijlandt, the president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. He told the Guardian the ladder could be used to descend the peak, so that it does not affect the difficulty of the climb.
“It is the most difficult part of climbing and also the place with the most traffic jams as well,” Tshering said.
Per the Guardian:
Many Sherpas and other Nepalis want to develop the industry of guiding clients to the top with minimal risk to all involved, while many mountaineers want to preserve Everest as a climbing challenge that demands a significant level of experience, technical competence and acceptance of risk.
But Stephen Venables, the first Briton to climb Everest without bottled oxygen, lamented the commercialism of Everest."The mountain has become a commodity, to be bought and sold like any other," he told the Guardian.
Still, the idea of ladders is under discussion to speed up the climbing and make it safer.
“If it can save lives, if it can save the traffic jam, then perhaps this would be a good idea,” Tshering said. “Ten feet doesn’t mean anything.”
Conquering Mount Everest: 60th anniversary
This news comes on the day that marks the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's conquering Mount Everest, May 29, 1953.
"I thought that once we'd climbed the mountain, it was unlikely anyone would ever make another attempt," Hillary said in 2003 to National Geographic. "We couldn't have been more wrong."
Since that first ascent some 3,836 people have climbed Mount Everest, with almost three quarters of them making the ascent in the last 10 years, Spiegel Online reported in 2012.
In 2013, about 520 climbers have already summited Mt. Everest (29,035ft).