To the peak of ladder safety

Posted on 24th Jun, 2013 | By Lorretta Tatham


You really do find ladders in the strangest of places. A ladder could be placed on the famous Hillary step on Mount Everest to ease congestion.

The step is the last obstacle for climbers nearing the summit of the World’s highest Mountain, 40 feet of technical climbing up a near vertical rock face that pushed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary to the limit.

60 years later, there’s a new plan to install a ladder on the step, which is 29,000ft, in order to ease congestion.

Dawa Steven Sherpa, member of Expedition Operators Association in Nepal, who runs commercial expeditions on Everest said: “Most of the traffic jams are at the Hillary Step because only one person can go up or down. If you have people waiting two, three or even four hours that means lots of exposure [to risk]. To make the climbing easier, that would be wrong. But this is a safety feature.”

520 climbers reached the summit of Everest this year up to last month. There are often lengthy delays as mountaineers queue to descend or ascend to harder parts, which is why the new ladder safety scheme received support from mountaineering authorities.

The ladder is a solution to the increasing number of climbers says Frits Vrijlandt, the president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) He said: “It’s for the way down, so it won’t change the climb.”

As well as the ladder safety scheme, there are plans to introduce fixed ropes, one for climbers on the way up and one for the way down.

Apa Sherpa, who climbed Everest a record 21 times said the Hillary Step was “very hard” and that a ladder was a good idea.

Pertemba Sherpa, who played a key role in the British expedition 1975 expedition, said: “The route is changing, there is more rock, less ice and snow. It’s very dangerous. For [the] safety of sherpas, this is good.

As for us, we feel that anywhere that any ladder which will potentially increase safety for climbers is worth it.

At Browns, we feel a special link to ladders for climbing expeditions.

In the early 70s, when Browns manufactured its own timber ladders, we supplied some to ‘Chris Bonnington’ for a climbing expedition up the famous south face of ‘Annapurna’ in the Himalayas. The ladders were used to help the explorers span ravines.

We don’t do mountaineering ladders anymore but we do have a great collection of most other types of ladder. We also have a great selection of ladder safety inspections and ladder training courses.

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