The Hillary Step lies near the end of the most popular ascent route to Everest. Photo: Sotti CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Hillary Step lies near the end of the most popular ascent route to Everest. Photo: Sotti CC-BY-SA-3.0

Mountaineers are urging the Nepalese Government not to allow the installation of ladders and fixed ropes near the summit of Everest.

Authorities have touted the placing of aluminium ladders and ropes on the Hillary Step, one of the few technical climbing areas on the most popular ascent route of the world’s highest mountain.

But doing so would devalue the achievement of those who manage to reach the summit, and climbing the mountain should be the preserve of those with the skills and experience, the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation said.

The Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme’s general assembly voted to resist the construction of permanent aids to climbing Everest.

It said: “A growing number of people from around the world continue to attempt to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, and accidents on the mountain, often resulting in multiple deaths of both climbers and the Sherpas who guide them, have brought urgent attention to the issue of overcrowding.

“The Government of Nepal recently floated the idea of the installation of steel ladders and fixed ropes on the Hillary Step to ease congestion on the route to the summit.

“The Hillary Step is an imposing 12m (39 ft) rock wall situated at 8,760 m (28,740 ft), and the final challenge, before the summit.”

The UIAA agreed a statement on the matter, saying: “As one of the most iconic landmarks of the world, Mount Everest belongs to all of mankind.

“Thus, the ascent of this magnificent mountain should be reserved to those who acquired the skills and the experience needed to reach the highest point of the world.

“Therefore, the UIAA does not support the addition of permanent structures to the ascent routes, as this would lessen the value of the achievement, spoil the adventure and encourage the abuse of this sacred place we call Mount Everest.”

UIAA president Frits Vrijlandt said the ultimate decision on whether to install a permanent structure near the summit rests with the Nepalese Government.

“Everest is a world heritage site and is therefore of universal importance, not just to the people of Nepal but the whole world,” he said.

“The UIAA statement represents the views of climbers and mountaineers from around the world who have strong affection and respect for the world’s highest mountain, and which we hope the Nepalese Government will consider.”

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