Thursday, June 13, 2024
Everest 2024

Khumbu Icefall to provide trickier Everest start than usual


Although the icefall route on Everest was opened a week ago, most logistical supplies haven’t yet reached higher camps for the Mount Everest summit, as noted by expedition entrepreneurs.

“The snow ground is not fully stable, and I suggest you take precaution in carrying double load through the icefall section,” advised Tshering Tenzing Sherpa, the basecamp manager of icefall doctors, emphasizing the need for caution due to unstable ground snow. He further added, “Some companies seem to ignore safety precautions and do not seem to use helmets. We urge you to use safety helmets at all times as there are chances of rockfall this time.”

The route through the perilous Khumbu Icefall was established on April 16, marking the third attempt along the western spur. This route had been abandoned since the tragic 2014 avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Nepali mountain guides. Despite reopening the route through the same area, members of the rope fixing team warned of a new risk due to unstable ground snow.

“There was an almost two weeks delay in opening the route through the treacherous icefall section as the icefall doctors stumbled upon ice blocks and crevasses along the usual route,” mentioned a member of the rope fixing team.

This delay has impacted the logistical aspect of the expedition, leading some operators to consider airdropping supplies near Camp I to expedite the process.

“Most of our supplies are still at the base camp. We will airdrop them because we don’t have time to carry them through the icefall,” explained Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Seven Summit Treks, while discussing the negotiations with helicopter companies for this purpose.

Despite the need for authorities’ approval to airdrop supplies due to regulations, Mingma emphasized the urgency resulting from the delay.

“Expedition operators are required to obtain prior permission from local authorities to use helicopters above the base camp, which is generally allowed only for emergency search and rescue purposes,” highlighted Rishi Bhandari, general secretary of the Expedition Operator’s Association.

Other operators are also considering airdropping supplies to bypass the perilous icefall, which is traversable only at night and poses significant risks even without loads. The Khumbu Icefall serves as the sole access point to reach the summits of Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse, and Mount Nuptse.

““Some are considering airlifting supplies because the hazardous conditions in the icefall make it hard to carry them using porters,” said Bhandari.