You may have heard about climbers just falling off the Everest while descending from the summit. This year was no exception.
During my early climbing days, I used to wonder how can people fall off mountains just like that given they are attached to fixed lines. Now that I have experienced Everest, I think I have the answer.
Here is a video from my recent expedition to Mt. Everest.
At first this video looks very simple. Small crevasse, small ladder and simple stepping, but with some context, you may realize this is not as simple as it looks.
The time stamp on this video shows 10:34AM. Crossing Kumbhu after sunrise is a big NO primarily if you are going UP. In this case I was going up to CAMP 1.
Kumbhu Icefall is one of the most dangerous places in the world, where the chance of Ice collapsing beneath your feat is as high as the ice collapsing over your head from the above. The icefall is always moving and the chances of a collapse are even higher after Sunrise.
We started from the basecamp around 3AM that morning with a goal to cross Khumbu by 9AM as time progressed I became slow. By time I reached this crevasse (19000 feet) I was tired and completely expensed. The rising sun also sucked me out of energy.
You can see how slowly I come to the crevasse, then I attach my harness to the rope followed by ascender. Then I step on the rope with my shoes and the rope gets tangled with my crampons. I trip and for a moment lose my balance before quickly recovering.
As I cross the ladder, you see me stopping and detaching my carabiner a bit too soon. At this point my back is still facing the crevasse. As I look back and wave my hand to the camera, I see my guide Furte Sherpa asking me to move away from the crevasse as I’m too close.. which I do :)-
Detaching From Fixed Ropes
On Everest and like any other big mountain, ropes provide the first line of safety to climbers. Usually In some sections on big mountains one has to walk without being attached to any rope. In this particular case I detached myself from a small section of the fixed line which ended just before this crevasse( not on the video), to walk a few steps before attaching myself back again to the fixed line for crossing the ladder
A majority of the accidents happen in the small duration when a climber detaches from the fixed line and has not yet attached to the new one.
Those are the two thing I can think off, may be some experience climbers will see some more on this video. Feel free to ask a question, leave a comment and /or share