Last May regular UKC contributor Kenton Cool reported from Everest that several bolts had been placed in the Yellow Band to replace old pegs and safeguard Sherpas and Western climbers (UKC News). This year he reports on more bolts being placed and of a new mobile phone antenna.
Over the weekend a number of Sherpas from Russell Brices' Himex team placed a further 3 bolts on the route between Camp 3 and the South Col. These were placed on the Geneva Spur at around 7800m.
Last year a total of 6 bolts were placed on the Yellow Band above Camp 3 by Willie Benegas and Adrain Bellinger. The bolts replaced old rotten pegs that had been placed by unknown sources some time in the past. At the time this action came under criticism by much of the climbing community but ultimately it was done to safe guard the passage of the Sherpa Teams who carry the loads for the Western climbers and therefore pass through the area many more times than the Western climbers themselves.
Adrain Bellinger together with Sherpas from the Himex team plan to add further bolts above the South Col. Again this will safe guard passage through areas which until now have been considered dangerous to Sherpa and Western climbers alike.
I have no doubt that this news will once again ruffle feathers with in the climbing community and rightly so, but please remember where these bolts are being placed and for what reasons. Everest is currently considered (rightly or wrongly) a commercial mountain and these bolts will help safeguard the local Sherpas who earn a living from working on their mountain.
Mobile Phone Coverage:
On Sunday 2nd March Namasta Mobile switched on their latest cell phone antenna in Gorak Shep, close to Everest Base Camp.
This means that the Base Camp on the South side of Everest now has cell phone reception. Reports are that the signal stretches to about Camp 1(6100m) on the mountain but not (as yet) to Camp 2.
In the past the North Side has had cell phone signal most of the way to the summit, and I personally have made a call on a cell phone on the summit, again using the Chinese network. Until this year the only place on the South side where there was any signal was part way along the Geneva Spur at just under 8000m, this was a little known fact, made use of by only the Sherpas.
Although with UK roaming charges it's still cheaper to use a Sat Phone!