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Nepal may install ladders on Mount Everest's Hillary Step

Nepal may install ladders on Mount Everest's Hillary Step

Photo: Reuters

A tourist looks at a view of Mount Everest from the hills of Syangboche in Nepal on December 3, 2009. (File photo)

Kathmandu:  Nepal may install ladders on Mount Everest's Hillary Step, the final rock wall which climbers have to scale to reach the summit, in a bid to ease congestion, the government said on Monday.

Expedition organisers announced last week that extra ropes would be fixed on congested ice walls like the Hillary Step, where mountaineers have faced frustrating delays in the past.

Now Nepal's tourism ministry says it is considering going one step further in a move that it says would improve safety and end logjams.

"There is a traffic jam at the Hillary Step during the main climbing months between April and June, so for the safety of mountaineers we are considering fixing ladders there," ministry spokesman Mohan Krishna Sapkota told AFP.

He said officials are yet to decide on a timeline for the proposal.

"It will be a difficult task to fix the ladders, but we are considering it for the future," he said.

Concerns that there is too much traffic on the "roof of the world" were highlighted last summer by a brawl between a group of European climbers and local guides on the slopes.

The fight erupted when the Nepalese asked the mountaineers to wait while they fixed ropes on an ice wall for climbers. The Europeans refused, saying they were free to ascend since they did not need to use the ropes.

In addition to fixing extra ropes at various spots deemed "danger zones", Nepalese authorities have said they will station soldiers and police at Everest base camp whom climbers can approach in the event of any trouble.

The 12-metre-high (40 feet) Hillary Step is named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who, with Tenzing Norgay, scaled the peak for the first time in 1953.

More than 300 people have died on Everest since the first successful summit.
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