Nepal’s tourism ministry proposed installing ladders on Everest’s Hillary Step for a second time early Monday morning. The government body already announced that additional ropes would be fixed on congested ice walls, including the Hillary Step, for the upcoming season in an effort to ease major traffic jams on the world’s tallest mountain.
The Hillary Step is a 40-foot section of rock wall that climbers have to complete before reaching the summit. It's been a controversial bottleneck for years as both ascending and decending climbers have to pass through just before or after their summit bids. During the peak climbing months of April to June, climbers are often halted at the Hillary Step due to crowds, a dangerous and frustrating delay.
Large numbers have swarmed the mountain in recent years. In 2013, more than 650 people reached the summit and nearly 200 more tried. For the 2014 season, soldiers will be stationed at base camp, a response to the high-profile brawl at base camp last year involving Ueli Steck, which was sparked by a delay on the mountain. Also, as of April 1, climbers will be required to haul eight kilograms of trash off the mountain to fight decades of debris buildup.
Officials have not decided on a timeline for the Hillary Step ladder proposal. Transporting and installing the ladders will be a challenge.