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  Mt Everest 2005: The North side rope debate Part One


©EverestNews.com

Some expeditions and independent climbers are asking when the job of fixing the ropes will be finished. This year, most expeditions and independent climbers have paid into a fund that was to pay for the rope and the Sherpas needed to fix the ropes. This has been done several times in the past, with varying results from good to bad, depending on your point of view. This year the ropes were guaranteed to be fixed up to the Second Step, according to those who paid the fee. This has not been done yet according to some. Several have told us the ropes are only fixed to 8300 meters. One climber told us yesterday, "I know that fixed ropes are only to 8300 meters". It is unclear if the money will be returned or what will happen if the rope fixing is not completed. There is also concern that some old rope was removed that could of have been used. With the herd of climbers who surely will attempt the summit in the very narrow window that is hoped for after the wind, some climbers believe these ropes should of have been left in place for greater safely. Early summits could have occurred this year if the ropes were in, but again this year, the ropes are being fixed late, pushing all the summits together.

The Himex commercial group lead by Brice is said to be receiving almost all of the money from the fund, reportedly some $30,000 dollars. The money this year was paid to the CTMA, which then paid Brice. The CTMA is said to be close to Brice. A respected commercial leader, told us the TMA nor the CMA in China had any knowledge of this deal. A commercial expedition told everestnews.com they believed the potential liability with fixing the ropes for a paid fee was too high and that their insurance company would not agree to cover fixing ropes. Accepting money for a job, changes the risk and the game.

Some expeditions and independent climbers want Brice to go first on Everest this year. While Brice has claimed to have installed all the ropes in the past, his expeditions always seem to follow the herd after the trail is broken and according to many, after others have installed the ropes up high. Installing the ropes up high is the dangerous part of rope fixing on Everest compared to installing the ropes to the camps. None of these climbers really believe Brice will leave the way. "He never does on Everest, he always follows everyone else," one climber stated.

Many issues on Everest are complex but in some ways simple. The rope fixing issue on the North side falls into this area. The ropes up to high camp have been fixed by various teams over the last several years, with Simonson's 2001 doing most of the work in any one year, then again they needed the ropes to get up high to search for Sandy Irvine. They arrived early and fixed the rope to high camp in order to work. They also fixed the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd step and had unguided clients summit with Sherpas first that year. Some contributed to the cost, others did not.

The issue of payment to others for rope fixing is often a hot one on Everest. There was the year the Russians put in much of the rope up Everest and then were asked for money. We did NOT post the translation of what the Russians told those who asked them for money. (It was not PG-13 rated.) Some expedition leaders are clearly intimidated by Brice, other stand up to him, some just try to get by.

Brice has been involved in the rope fixing on Everest for several years, to what degree depends on who you believe. Below is a table showing Brice's expeditions from 1981-2003 on Everest showing number of climbers and number of non-sherpa summits. Some climbers might be included who were just "on his permit", and the guides summits are included also. Our 2004 numbers are not yet complete.

Year Climbers Non Sherpa Summits*
1981 2 0
1988 With Strokes 19 0
1991 with Taylor 16 0
1994 10 0
1995 14 2
1997 18 2
1998 2 2
1999 6 3
2000 12 0
2001 25 10
2002 7 2
2003 20 14
Totals before 2004 141 35

* Summits include the expeditions guides

Brice likes to control the North side of Everest, some would say that is the understatement of the century. Russ's interaction with many of the various teams and climbers in recent years has been "tense" and has ranged to the level some would call "dangerous".

What will happen in 2005? Stay Tuned! We have the real work ahead...

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