More ropes at 'death zone' bottleneck to ease Mount Everest traffic jam

Nepalese climbing specialists will fix a second rope at the Hillary Step, a dangerous "death zone" bottleneck near the Mount Everest summit, to ease congestion on the world's highest mountain, a hiking group said on Thursday, March 13, 2014. -- FILE
Nepalese climbing specialists will fix a second rope at the Hillary Step, a dangerous "death zone" bottleneck near the Mount Everest summit, to ease congestion on the world's highest mountain, a hiking group said on Thursday, March 13, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (REUTERS) - Nepalese climbing specialists will fix a second rope at the Hillary Step, a dangerous "death zone" bottleneck near the Mount Everest summit, to ease congestion on the world's highest mountain, a hiking group said on Thursday.

Hundreds of climbers from around the world attempt to scale the 8,850m Everest summit every year, but a 40-foot near vertical wall of rock at about 8,790m often causes major problems.

Exhausted climbers have been forced to wait there for several hours, awaiting their turn to climb up or come down a single rope, exposed to risks of thin air in what is known as the "death zone".

Dawa Steven Sherpa, a member of Expedition Organisers'Association (EOA), said separate ropes will be fixed also at obstacles like the Geneva Spur, Yellow Band and Balcony to ease the congestion.

"We want to fix ropes as early as possible so it leaves many weather windows to get to the top without any climber being pressed to climb at the same time and create the traffic jam,"Sherpa told Reuters.

Nepal says it will post army and police personnel at the Everest base camp for climbers' security after a brawl between European mountaineers and local sherpas over rope fixing last year.

They will also ensure that the climbers don't leave garbage on the mountain, another concern on the peak that attracts increasing number of climbers.

The government has asked climbers to bring down at least 8kg of rubbish to the base camp. Mountain climbing is a key source of income and employment for impoverished Nepal.

More than 4,000 people have scaled Mount Everest since it was first climbed by New Zealand's Edmund Hillary and Nepal's Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953. A total of 240 have died on its slopes.