Ridge Climbing Route
(From the Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia:
The ascent via the southeast ridge begins with a trek
to Base Camp at 5,380 m (17,600 ft) on the south side of Everest in
Nepal. Expeditions usually fly into Lukla
(2,860 m) from Kathmandu
and pass through Namche
Bazaar. Climbers then hike to Base Camp, which usually takes six to
eight days, allowing for proper altitude acclimatization in order to
sickness. Climbing equipment and supplies are carried by yaks,
dzopkyos and porters
to Base Camp on the Khumbu
Glacier. When Hillary and Tenzing climbed Everest in 1953, they
started from Kathmandu Valley, as there were no roads further east at
Climbers will spend a couple of weeks in Base Camp,
acclimatizing to the altitude. During that time, Sherpas
and some expedition climbers will set up ropes and ladders in the
crevasses and shifting blocks of ice makes the icefall one of the most
dangerous sections of the route. Many climbers and Sherpas have been
killed in this section. To reduce the hazard, climbers will usually
begin their ascent well before dawn. Once sunlight reaches the icefall,
the danger increases substantially. Above the icefall is Camp I or
Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6,065 m (19,900 ft).
From Camp I, climbers make their way up the Western
Cwm to the base of the Lhotse
face, where Camp II is established at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). The Western
Cwm is a relatively flat, gently rising glacial valley, marked by huge
in the centre which prevent direct access to the upper reaches of the
Cwm. Climbers are forced to cross on the far right near the base of Nuptse
to a small passageway known as the "Nuptse corner". The
Western Cwm is also called the "Valley of Silence" as the
topography of the area generally cuts off wind from the climbing route.
altitude and a clear, windless day can make the Western Cwm
unbearably hot for climbers.
From Camp II, climbers ascend the Lhotse face on fixed
ropes up to a small ledge at 7,470 m (24,500 ft). From there, it is
another 500 metres to Camp IV on the South
Col at 7,920 m (26,000 ft). From Camp III to Camp IV, climbers are
faced with two additional challenges: The Geneva Spur and The Yellow
Band. The Geneva Spur is an anvil shaped rib of black rock named by a
1952 Swiss expedition. Fixed ropes assist climbers in scrambling
over this snow covered rock band. The Yellow Band is a section of sedimentary
which also requires about 100 metres of rope for traversing it.
On the South Col, climbers enter the death
zone. Climbers typically only have a maximum of two or three days
they can endure at this altitude for making summit bids. Clear weather
and low winds are critical factors in deciding whether to make a summit
attempt. If weather does not cooperate within these short few days,
climbers are forced to descend, many all the way back down to Base Camp.
From Camp IV, climbers will begin their summit push
around midnight with hopes of reaching the summit (still another 1,000
metres above) within 10 to 12 hours. Climbers will first reach "The
Balcony" at 8,400 m (27,700 ft), a small platform where they can
rest and gaze at peaks to the south and east in the early dawn light.
Continuing up the ridge, climbers are then faced with a series of
imposing rock steps which usually forces them to the east into waist
deep snow, a serious avalanche
hazard. At 8,750 m (28,700 ft), a small table sized dome of ice and snow
marks the South Summit.
From the South Summit, climbers follow the knife edge
south east ridge along what is known as the "Cornice traverse"
where snow clings to intermittent rock. This is the most exposed section
of the climb as a misstep to the left would send one 2,400 m (8,000 ft)
down the southwest face while to the immediate right is the 3,050 m
(10,000 ft) Kangshung
face. At the end of this traverse is an imposing 12 m (40 ft) rock
wall called the "Hillary
Step" at 8,760 m (28,750 ft). Hillary and Tenzing were the
first climbers to ascend this step and they did it with primitive ice
climbing equipment and without fixed ropes. Nowadays, climbers will
ascend this step using fixed ropes previously set up by Sherpas. Once
above the step, it is a comparatively easy climb to the top on
moderately angled snow slopes - though the exposure on the ridge is
extreme especially while traversing on very large cornices of snow.
After the Hillary Step, climbers also must traverse on a very loose and
rocky section that has a very large entanglement of fixed ropes that can
be troublesome in bad weather. Climbers will typically spend less than a
half-hour on "top of the world" as they realize the need to
descend to Camp IV before darkness sets in or afternoon weather becomes
a serious problem.