Rope Fixers Summit Everest

Imagine Nepal reports that the rope-fixing team led by Dawa Gyalgje Sherpa summited Everest at 1:52 pm today. Coordinated from Base Camp by Mingma G, the Sherpa climbers worked in two groups and battled high winds during the ascent.

It was hard, but retreating was not an option. The rope fixers needed to complete their task in time for the nearly 200 people currently on their way toward Everest’s summit. Most aim to top out in the next five days.

Yesterday, a group of four rope fixers, followed by a photographer, opened the route from the South Col to the Balcony at 8,430m. There they were replaced by a second team who fixed the route to the South summit. Finally, the two groups joined to summit together.

Fixing and cleaning

Sherpa climbers stand begind piles of old ropes, with Everest's snowy flanks behind.

Imagine Nepal’s rope-fixing team on Everest, with the old ropes and O2 canisters they have retrieved from the mountain so far. Photo: Imagine Nepal


The rope-fixing team was not only fixing two sets of lines up the mountain (one for ascent and one for descent). They also retrieved old ropes and used O2 canisters.

“Every small effort we make can significantly impact the mountain environment,” Imagine Nepal wrote in a press release. “After returning from the summit, our team will continue to collect rubbish from the South Col and above.”

Some climbers, such as Canadian Elia Saikaly, had recently posted about insensitive climbers littering in the Khumbu icefall.

Hundreds of climbers on the go

Now that the route is open, we could see summit waves in record numbers. According to its latest update on May 7, Nepal’s Department of Tourism issued 467 Everest permits for foreigners. Bearing in mind that 99% climb with at least one Sherpa, the number of climbers heading for the summit this season could easily pass a thousand.

The only climbers currently attempting Everest without support (other than the fixed ropes) are Suhajda Szilard of Hungary and Kilian Jornet of Spain.

Stefi Troguet of Andorra is going without supplementary O2 but with Sherpa support. She checked in from Camp 3 where she plans to spend the night. She noted that the entire Lhotse face is a blue ice wall. The jet-stream winds of the past few days have likely swept the face and this could mean that conditions will be hard above the South Col.

Thefts and not enough O2?

There are other serious problems on the mountain. Today, climber Guy Cotter posted about missing gear. “We just discovered we’ve had a cache of gear stolen from the South Col. Tents, stoves, pots, and gas all gone,” the Adventure Consultants leader reported. Stolen gear poses a real danger. Climbers need to be able to trust their vital gear is in place when they reach the South Col, at nearly 8,000m.

Cotter blamed budget operators and warned there may be worse problems ahead. “This is the work of cheap operators who do not have enough of their own equipment and have to steal to cover the shortfall,” he said. “I think this may only be the start. We are already hearing that some of the large cheap operators do not have enough oxygen to supply their teams.”

Cotter's selfie with sunglasses and a yellow waterproof jacket, with Patagonia spyres in background.

Guy Cotter last year in Patagonia. Photo: Guy Cotter


Lack of O2 could prove lethal for Everest climbers, with most clients relying heavily on supplementary O2 from Camp 2 up.

“Anyone joining a cheap operator is as much to blame as the thieves themselves,” Cotter bluntly concluded.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.