After Disaster, a New Route Up Mount Everest

Avoiding danger spot means longer climb, experts say
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2015 11:40 AM CST
After Disaster, a New Route Up Mount Everest
In this May 18, 2013 photo, climbers navigate the knife-edge ridge just below the Hillary Step on their way to the summit of Mount Everest, in the Khumbu region of the Nepal Himalayas.   (AP Photo/Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger)

Last year saw the history's deadliest Mount Everest accident, and Nepal is taking steps to make sure it never happens again. At the center of the trouble is the Khumbu Icefall, a frequently moving glacier that climber Jon Krakauer compared to "a round of Russian roulette" for climbers, the Washington Post reports. The country is shifting the mountain's climbing route away from the icefall to match a route taken before the 1990s, when climbers started going up the shorter and easier "west shoulder" of the mountain, the BBC reports. "We are moving the route to the center where there is almost no such danger (from the Icefall)," a sherpa organization head tells the BBC.

"The route through the center part will be difficult and time consuming, but it will be relatively free from the risk of avalanche, as the ice cliffs and hanging glaciers (of the west shoulder) are comparatively far away from it," he adds. Ropes and other climbing equipment will be installed along the path. The increasing danger may be linked to climate change, an Everest guide tells the Post. "The mountain has been deteriorating rapidly the past three years due (to) global warming, and the breakdown in the Khumbu Icefall is dramatic," he says. (Read more Mount Everest stories.)

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