02 Jun, 2021
By Aashish Mishra/Chhetu Sherpa Rising Nepal
Kathmandu, June 2: The spring mountaineering season for Sagarmatha has been extended by three days.
Issuing a notice on Facebook, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee informed that it, in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Expedition Operator’s Association (EoA), had decided to extend the closing date for the Khumbu Icefall Route for this climbing season to June 3, Thursday.
The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) is the body that prepares a safe path for climbers to pass through the Khumbu Icefall on their way to the top of the world’s tallest mountain.
SPCC informed that the decision was taken in light of the adverse weather conditions that prevented mountaineers from climbing the 8,848.86-metre peak.
Expeditions were twice stalled due to Cyclone Tauktae and Cyclone Yaas. This prevented many people from making their attempt on Sagarmatha despite being ready.
According to Gyanendra Shrestha, the government’s liaison officer at the Sagarmatha base camp, only about 200 of the 408 people who had obtained permits to climb the mountain were able to make it to the top. A few climbers abandoned their climb altogether and returned to Kathmandu citing the risky weather and the coronavirus pandemic.
“The bad weather this year significantly shrunk the good weather window climbers have to try and make it to the top. The adverse weather conditions also forced many who had reached quite near the peak to return to lower altitudes for safety,” Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, director and base camp manager of the expedition company Seven Summit Treks Pvt. Ltd, told The Rising Nepal.
“The extension is to give the climbers who missed out earlier a chance to make their summit bids,” said Mira Acharya, director of the Mountaineering Division at DoT.
Authorities usually end the spring climbing season for Sagarmatha on May 31 because the rising temperatures and melting snow makes climbing unsafe and increases the chances of avalanches. But Acharya assured that the conditions this time were safe.
“We consulted with Icefall doctors (high altitude climbers who fix lines through the terrain along the Khumbu Icefall) and experts who told us that the situation on the ground was safe,” she said. “Because of the cyclones, there has been continuous snowfall and the temperature hasn’t risen much. So, climbers can safely make their ascent.”
“Furthermore, we haven’t extended the season by much – only by three days,” Acharya stated.
This season has recorded comparatively fewer human losses, as per DoT. A total of four people – an American, a Swiss and two Nepali Sherpas – lost their lives this season.