Sherpa guides struggled with high winds and snow today to prepare the final route to the top of Mount Everest, with a record number of climbers hoping to reach the summit this season, officials said. The bad weather was slowing the work but the first attempt could occur as soon as Sunday, said government mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha, who is stationed at Everest’s base camp.The workers were fixing ropes above the last camp before the final approach to the summit at South Col at a height of around 8,000 meters, he said.
The Nepalese Tourism Department issued a record 371 permits this year to people to scale the 8,850-meter mountain. An equal number or more Nepalese Sherpa guides will accompany them. Last year, the government issued permits to 289 climbers. Some mountaineers blamed crowding and poor planning for bottlenecks that delayed climbers at high altitudes and possibly contributed to several deaths.
The increased number of climbers this year is likely because of people who were unable to climb in 2014 and 2015 who returned, said Dinesh Bhattarai, chief of the Tourism Department that handles all mountaineering affairs in Nepal. The 2015 season was scrapped after 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides.