KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal will double the number of climbing ropes on Mount Everest in a bid to cut traffic and prevent brawls on the world's highest peak, climbing expedition organisers said on Thursday.
Extra ropes will be fixed on congested ice walls near the Everest summit where climbers have faced frustrating bottlenecks and delays in the past, said Mr Dambar Parajuli, president of the national Expedition Operators Association.
The move is one of a string of new measures to be introduced this climbing season, which begins in late April, after a brawl last year between European climbers and local guides made global headlines.
The brawl fuelled worry that overcrowding on the "roof of the world" was raising tensions and leading to dangerous standoffs.
"We are going to fix double ropes in congested and difficult turnings... the new ropes will definitely help the climbers and minimise the traffic," Mr Parajuli told AFP.
"Climbers will not have to wait long in a place because of lack of ropes... I am hopeful this time no brawls will take place because of ropes."
The fight last summer erupted when the Nepalese asked the mountaineers to wait while they fixed ropes on an ice wall for climbers.
The Europeans refused, saying they were free to ascend since they did not need to use the ropes, sparking a violent argument.
Sherpa guides will fix the extra ropes from April onwards at various spots deemed "danger zones", including Yellow Band and the Hillary Step, named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who, with Mr Tenzing Norgay, scaled the peak for the first time in 1953.
Extra ropes will also lower safety risks for mountaineers by helping exhausted climbers avoid dangerous, time-consuming bottlenecks while descending from the peak.
In recent weeks, Nepal has introduced a raft of measures to boost its key tourism sector, including a sharp cut in mountaineering fees for a range of peaks.
Authorities have also decided to station soldiers and police at Everest base camp so climbers can approach officers in case of any trouble.
The government has said each climber scaling Everest will have to bring back 8kg of rubbish in an effort to clean up a mountain that has become the world's highest rubbish dump.
More than 300 people have died on Everest since the first successful summit.