Climbing at high altitude and undertaking expeditions such as climbing Everest and other 8000m peaks is inherently dangerous. However, as with many serious sports, it must be recognised that the perceived danger is itself much greater than the actual risk.
On a scale of danger, K2 is rated most dangerous mountain to climb, with Manaslu rated at 9 and Everest at 10.
Fatalities on Everest have reduced dramatically over the last three decades, demonstrating how much safety has increased and danger reduced:
|1980 – 1989||59 fatalities||32.42% of total attempted ascents|
|2000 – 2008||45 fatalities||1.53% of total attempted ascents|
This significant decline can be attributed to many things - notably to advances in materials including strengthened ropes and lighter oxygen bottles, hugely improved communications systems on the mountain and also to a much greater understanding of external factors such as the weather. Weather forecasts regarding summit conditions can now be received to the quarter day.
As equally existent as the risks, are the steps taken by Himalayan Experience to minimise and mitigate them though our professionalism and constantly increased preparation and technology. Much responsibility is taken by Himalayan Experience - our professionalism and safety record is unsurpassed in the Himalaya. With an expedition organizer constantly in control of all clients and climbers, at all times, we ensure that hazards are constantly assessed and avoided. Our decisions and methods are supported by contingency plans that take as many aspects of the expedition into account, and we only ever use the best tried and tested equipment. Unlike other expeditions, Himalayan Experience also has its own dedicated Doctor as part of the team.
Over the years Himalayan Experience has remained at the forefront of development for safety and comfort for our expedition members, and this will continue in the future. This development has historically centred around Base Camp and the higher camps, but recently steps have been taken to address the issue of safety further afield.
In Kathmandu, general building expansion has been huge with very little care for infrastructure - building standards are not satisfactory. The telephone system is totally overloaded, the water supply is fragile, there are long periods of no electricity, the roads are chaotic, and the quality of air is sub-standard. One of the current topics of discussion in Kathmandu is what will happen in the city in the event of a major earth quake.
In an effort to try and improve the level of comfort and safety for Himalayan Experience expedition members whilst they stay in Kathmandu, we have decided to move from our long and trusted partner Hotel Tibet to the much newer and higher quality Hyatt. This increases the quality of your stay significantly. There is a constant power and communication supply, and most importantly, the hotel is surrounded by a large garden area making for a better air quality, tranquil surroundings, and a place to which to escape in the event of an earth quake. It is also the only hotel in Kathmandu to have a helicopter landing pad.
The news in Nepal is often dominated with stories of aircraft accidents - there have now been three major crashes in the last 1 ½ years with multiple fatalities. As Himalayan Experience uses aircraft access at both the beginning and end of expeditions, we researched alternative possibilities in depth. In the same time period as the aircraft crashes, we found that three doors were reported to have fallen off aircraft, whilst airborne.
Due to our understanding that the aviation industry in Nepal is in total chaos - stretched to the passenger carrying limit, often operating in dangerous weather conditions, and with an apparent lack of proper maintenance on equipment, we now advise that all expedition members consider the use of helicopters between Kathmandu and Lukla.
Himalayan Experience will continue to dedicate this level of attention to detail and to develop its expedition safety from year to year.