MENU – A French team has opened a new route to access the top of the world, thus avoiding the dangerous icefall that climbers have to cross on the normal Nepalese route.
Led by the French Himalayan Marc Batard, record holder for the ascent of Everest without oxygen, a team of mountaineers opened a new route, a variant of the normal route, to avoid crossing the dangerous Khumbu glacier.
The team of French mountaineers equipped the rocky buttress on the right bank, under the summit of Nuptse, to bypass the glacier and arrive directly at camp 2. They positioned a base camp at Gorakshep, 300 meters downstream from the camp of current base. “The route is 700 meters long on which more than 1000 meters of fixed ropes have been laid.“, details with the Figaro Marc Batard, the expedition leader. The route leads to a virgin summit at 5,880m, which the team named Sundare Sherpa, after a former companion of the expedition leader.
Composed of young future high mountain guides as well as the son of the 70-year-old veteran mountaineer, the team worked in this route for several days, “not technically complicated», And never exceeding the fourth degree in the climbing rating scale. The route had been spotted this summer, by helicopter, which facilitated the ascent.
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“This new route will prevent many accidents and save lives.», Rejoices Marc Batard. Currently, climbers are forced to go through the Khumbu glacier, which takes shape at the foot of the southern pass in the western valley of Everest, and continues to the foot of the base camp by the icefall of the same name. , a set of seracs and crevasses in perpetual motion. The climbers as well as the carriers who supply the upper camps must cross this cascade of ice which constitutes one of the most delicate stages of the ascent. Accidents are frequent, and tragedies repeat themselves.
The Khumbu glacier, a dangerous stage in the ascent of Everest.
In 2014, 16 Sherpas were killed on this stretch of the route in the deadliest avalanche in Everest’s history. They carried tents, food and ropes. They had nevertheless undertaken a morning expedition, as is recommended to avoid the hot hours which increase the risk of ice block falls and serac ruptures.
“The opening of this new route surprised», Reports Marc Batard. “No one had had the idea for 70 years [et la première ascension du sommet en 1953, NDLR]“. If the route is intended to become classic and replace the dangerous portion of the normal route, it still remains to equip 400 meters of snow ridges after the summit at 5,880 m, to reach the western valley of Everest where the camp 2 is installed. The climbers will continue the operation in the spring and the next step will be to install real equipment “via ferrata type», Specifies Marc Batard, to secure and facilitate the ascent of the carriers who supply the upper camps. A French company has already been contacted to provide the service.