Coming to Everest: a Ladder?

Purists irked by plan to make final ascent easier

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 28, 2013 2:18 AM CDT | Updated May 28, 2013 5:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Traditionalists are up in arms about plans to install a ladder to make things easier on one of the final—and toughest—stages of the climb to the summit of Mount Everest, the Guardian reports. Mountaineering authorities say a ladder at the Hillary Step, a near-vertical rock face at 29,000 feet, would ease the congestion near the summit that has forced some climbers to wait up to four hours in harsh conditions to ascend. (As the Telegraph explains, only a single climber can make his way up the Hillary Step at a time.)

The plan is welcomed by the sherpas who help climbers up the mountain—and sometimes die there. "The route is changing, there is more rock, less ice and snow. it's very dangerous," says a retired guide who was on the team that first conquered Everest's southwest face. For the "safety of sherpas, this is good." Authorities are also considering stricter traffic controls and checks to ensure that climbers have at least a basic level of competence. Some 520 climbers have reached the summit this year, including an 80-year-old Japanese man who became the oldest person to conquer the world's highest peak.

Cimbers from various countries make their way down towards Camp 4 on their way to summit Mount Everest.   (AP Photo/ Pasang Geljen Sherpa)
A team of climbers led by 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura, third from left on the peak, stand on the summit of Mount Everest.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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Mount Everest is not a place for training people who only know ice as cubes in a glass in how to use an ice axe and crampons. - Frits Vrijlandt, president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation

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