The popular route up Everest on the Nepal side will be officially fixed from Base Camp to summit this Spring 2011 climbing season.
Previously only the route through the ice-fall to Camp I was fixed each season by the so-called Ice Fall Doctors, leaving the expeditions to negotiate the rest between themselves.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, founder of Asian Trekking, writes:
I would like to make a special mention of all the work my colleagues and fellow expedition organisers are doing to prepare for the coming Climbing Season in Spring. Throughout these winter months, various mountain guides and expedition operators have been working out the exact equipment requirements and budget to fix rope to the summit of Everest. The Expedition Operators Association of Nepal (EAO) agreed in its last general meeting to take responsibility for collecting the funds from all expedition teams to pay for the route fixing up from camp 1 to the Summit of Mt. Everest. What would normally be an arbitrary negotiation at Base Camp is now taking shape into a well coordinated and cooperative effort. I am very encouraged by this development as I am sure this will lead to more secure ropes, earlier summit chances and less crowding and “traffic jams”.
Much of what is happening on Everest these days is a controversial topic in the mountaineering world (in terms of high volumes of climbers, and the low-quality and arbitrary calibre of a lot of the climbers). Books such as "Dark Shadows Falling" by Joe Simpson (of "Touching the Void" fame) explore some of these trends. While Simpson, given his strong conviction in alpine-style climbing, would probably not approve of the decision to fix ropes all the way to the summit, I can't help thinking that this is probably a good thing, since the quality and traffic of climbers on Everest is not set to improve anytime soon it seems. More regulation and control is needed.
It doesn't seem likely that the Nepalese government will set a limit on the numbers of climbers on their side of the mountain anytime soon. They need revenue. In this respect it is not a bad thing if better management is implemented on the mountain. Disputes over things such as which expedition sets up the fixed ropes and which other teams are allowed to use them is an issue. And not just on Everest, but other popular routes on peaks such as Ama Dablam. As long as this remains on a few select, "sacrificial" peaks. This may be a good thing on smaller peaks such as Island Peak and Mera Peak. With very little control over the quality and experience of the climbers heading up on these "easy" peaks, fixed ropes will introduce a degree of safety.
While I don't enjoy the way in which Everest is "conquered" these days either, I, like Joe Simpson, admit that an all-expenses paid offer to climb the mountain would be hard to turn down...
I'm not exactly qualified to talk about going up Everest, BUT, it does seem that less and less is the responsibly of the climber. Rather, said climber pays more money to get to the top with greater ease (relatively speaking!) and less experience. I’m not saying its easy by any stretch of the imagination, however, if I were aiming for the top of the world Id like to do it by graduating to that point (through climbing my way up through the ranks as it were) and tying my own shoe laces.
Well i have heard stories of fresh food and fish been flown into base camp, and on summit day the Sherpa's waking you up getting you out the tent and fastening your boots then clipping you into the fixed rope and shoving you off on your way.
Where is the adventure in that, that's why there are greater mountains to tick off like K2 or Annapurna.