Understanding the Climbing Route on Mount Everest
As one of the most daunting challenges on earth, mounting the apex of Mount Everest is a dream for several mountaineers worldwide. However, climbing it is more than just a physically and mentally challenging endeavor; it also involves proper planning and execution, with the route playing a pivotal role in the expedition’s success. But, who takes the responsibility of determining the climbing route each year, and how do they do it? Let’s delve into the details.
The Standard Routes to Mount Everest
Substantially, there are two major routes to conquer the world’s tallest peak. One is the southeast ridge from Nepal, and the other is the north ridge from Tibet. The most frequently used route is the southeast ridge, which was also the first route paved by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Deciding the Mount Everest Climbing Route
Often, the decision to choose the climbing route depends on several critical factors. Foremost among them is the weather condition, which varies dramatically from year to year. Climbers or mountaineering teams from various countries usually collaborate to select the best possible route, using knowledge of past climbs, current weather conditions, and potential risks.
Preparations for the climbing route start early in the climbing season (typically March, April, and May). A route-setting team, often called “Icefall Doctors,” part of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC), specialize in placing, maintaining, and altering the route through the Khumbu Icefall. They are local Sherpas, picked for their high-altitude expertise and experience in climbing megapeaks. Their responsibility includes fixing ropes and ladders over crevasses and ice seracs, marking the track, and adjusting the path if necessary due to moving ice.
Changing Climbing Routes
The climbing routes on Mount Everest do not remain static; they change every year and sometimes more frequently within the climbing seasons. The reason is the glacier’s movement on which the base camps are situated, which as well alters the terrain. Furthermore, the unpredictability of weather conditions, and the ongoing effect of climate change, also contribute to the modifications in the climbing routes.
The Challenge of Crowding
Overcrowding has also become an intense challenge. In recent years there has been a significant upsurge in the number of mountaineers attempting to scale Everest, resulting in a dangerously congested pathway. The decision to alter the route can sometimes emerge from a need to manage these crowds effectively to avoid perilous traffic jams.
The Future of Climbing Routes on Mount Everest
Climate change has induced various challenges in determining the route each year as the melting glaciers have made the path more unpredictable and perilous. Despite the difficulties, expedition leaders and local Sherpas’ expertise has continued to pioneer the safest route up Mount Everest each year. They anchor the brave journey of numerous climbers to the pinnacle of the earth and back.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often does the climbing route on Mount Everest change?
The climbing route on Mount Everest changes each year, and sometimes it changes within the season itself, due to the shifting glaciers and varying weather conditions.
2. Who decides the climbing route on Mount Everest?
The “Icefall Doctors” from the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee are primarily responsible for setting the route. But choosing which route to take is often a joint decision made by several mountaineering teams.
3. Why do climbing routes on Mount Everest change?
The climbing routes on Mount Everest change due to the shifting nature of the Khumbu Icefall and the glaciers’ movement. Weather conditions, climate change implications, and sometimes overcrowding can also result in route changes.
4. How does climate change affect the climbing routes?
Climate change has been causing the glaciers to melt, which makes the path unpredictable and creates further complications in setting the climbing routes.
5. Is overcrowding a concern when determining the climbing route?
Yes, overcrowding has become a growing concern in recent years. It can lead to dangerous traffic jams on the climbing route and sometimes necessitate a change in the route to manage the climbers effectively.