Monday, April 09, 2018

Himalaya Spring 2018: Icefall Doctors Complete Route to Camp 2 on Everest

It may still be early in the spring 2018 Himalayan climbing season, but the Sherpa team known as the "Icefall Doctors" have hit a major milestone. Last week, the group of eight climbers finished installing the route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall and on to Camp 1, opening the way for the first teams to arrive in Base Camp to start their long acclimatization process. 

According to reports, this is the safest route through the icefall that we've seen in some time. The team found more blue ice – which is harder and less prone to collapse – than in recent years and there is less ice hanging over the route as well. That means less chance of a collapse from above that could destroy the route itself and injury climbers passing below. In fact, the route that will be used through the icefall this year is seen as the safest ever, which should instill some confidence as the season truly gets underway. 

As usual, the Icefall Doctors not only installed ropes through the treacherous section of the climb, which is found just above BC, but they also put down a series of aluminum ladders. The ladders are set into place both vertically and horizontally, allowing the alpinists to cross over open crevasses or climb up to higher areas much more easily. This section of the route on the South Side of the mountain is considered one of the bottlenecks of any expedition and is often viewed as the most dangerous section of the entire climb. So much so that many teams now conduct their first few acclimatization rotations on other nearby peaks before heading up Everest itself. 

Once the route through the icefall was complete, the team proceeded upwards to Camp 1 just on the other side. From there, the team has also installed ropes up to Camp 2 a few days later, providing the necessary safety measures to help the gather mountaineers to begin making their way up Everest. They'll do that several times before eventually making a summit bid sometime around mid-May. 

The news of the competition of the route is welcomed by the teams currently making their way to Everest Base Camp. The first International Mountain Guides squad arrived their late last week and have already started making daily hikes and doing some pre-climb training. Similarly, on the North Side, the 7 Summits Club is the first to reach Base Camp from Tibet. These groups only have the campsite to themselves for a short time of course, as other teams will begin filling in very soon. 

That's it for today. More Himalayan updates to come soon. 

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