Nepal General

Ice fall Doctors; The Heroes of the Mountains

Walking on the Khumbu Ice-fall (Image: National Geography)

Ice fall Doctors; The Heroes of the Mountains

We have heard a lot about those summiting Mount Everest, the ones reaching on top of the world but have we heard about the team that lies behind to make a successful ascent and descent to and from Everest?

Early in the morning when half the world is still asleep, there are few men in the mountains set out in some of the most dangerous terrain on earth. Their aim is not to reach the top, or make any records at the Everest. The aim is to survive, and work for the group of summiteers arriving for their summit.

Their objective is to make the trail easy enough for the climbers so that they are able to reach the top of the world with lesser difficulties. They do so for certain amount of money they earn per day to raise their children and to survive in this demanding world.

These are the doctors of the Everest, the men on work early before the sun strikes on the glossy snow-capped mountains. They are the local guides paid for securing the trail for the summiteers through the Khumbu region, the region with maximum avalanches and deaths.

From the base camp, they are ready with the equipment’s, the ladders, the ropes and the ice axe to make a decent and least risky route possible through the Khumbu icefall. The mountaineers would never be able to cross this region on their own without the help of these trained experienced ice fall doctors.

khumbu icefall traverse
Walking on the Khumbu Ice-fall (Image: National Geography)

These specialists know the cracks, the holes, the crevasses and the solution to all these changes occurring in the Everest region every now and then, hence called the doctors. They set up around 180-200 aluminum ladders along the route from base camp to camp 1 and camp 2. The ropes are tied with each ladder to make the walk through ice possible.

They secure a route to allow largely foreign climbers to pass safely through the maze of deep crevasses and frozen cliffs formed as the Khumbu glacier moves down from Mount Everest towards the valleys below in Nepal. Without these doctors, no ascent of the 8,848 meter (29,029ft) peak via the route followed by the vast majority of mountaineers is possible.

The ice-fall doctors prepare the route prior to the arrival of the mountaineers and are the last one to leave the mountains in the end of the season. After the season is over, they can be seen going up to camp 2 to gather all the garbage’s and the equipment’s and returning back to the base camp. They stay in the base camp throughout the season to closely study and repair the trails if needed.

The risk associated with this job cannot be imagined as many have been swept off due to avalanches, many have fallen into the crevasses and many died during the earthquake. All this, they do only to get paid in dollars, to survive and to feed their family and children. Hence these are the real heroes of the mountains, they are called the “ice-fall doctors”.

Featured Image Source: Gripped Magazine

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