Kenton Cool is one of the World's most experienced Everest Guides. He has summited the mountain 6 times in the last 6 years. He is a regular contributor to UKClimbing.com and has sent us an important update from the mountain this season:
Kenton Cool reports for UKClimbing.com from Everest.
"On the 2nd of May, after deliberation and coordination among the leading Everest teams, a small group of Western guides assisted by a number of Sherpas spent most of the morning working on the Yellow Band of Everest. The Yellow Band is situated above Camp 3 on the South (Nepalese) side of the mountain at approximately 7700m. The team cleared away loose rock and cut away old rope, making the forthcoming summit pushes this season a safer proposition."
"In doing this work, a number of bolts were also placed in this area of compact rock. This will no doubt bring a certain amount of criticism on those who were involved."
"The Yellow Band is one of the most noticeable features on the South Side of Everest. It sweeps through Nuptse and Lhotse before cutting through Everest itself. Climbers who attempt the classic SE Ridge of Everest (The route climbed in '53 by John Hunt's team) cross the band on route to the South Col. The band is made up of limestone, marble and calc-silicate and is very compact with just a few horizontal striations that offer almost zero options for anchoring fixed ropes. In the past, rope has been tied to existing old rope frozen in place with little or no idea what is securing the rope to the mountain. Each of the 7 times I have climbed up through the Yellow Band, I have thought to myself that this spot is a disaster waiting to happen. Sometimes 8 or 9 climbers are all pulling on fixed rope that is secured by a very dubious anchor."
"It would be easy for the arm chair climber to say that if someone who attempts to climb Everest is not capable of climbing the Yellow Band without fixed rope then they shouldn't be there in the first place, but then this is an argument all about commercialism rather than about placing some bolts. Everest is for better or worse a commercial mountain at least by its two main routes (N Ridge and SE Ridge), and besides each time I have been through the band I have 'Pulled for Glory'. In my mind the fixing of a number of bolts at this spot isn't "murdering the impossible" but a sensible act that will without a doubt save lives of Sherpas, Western climbers and guides alike."