(By Nick Boudreau) ExplorersWeb caught up with Tshering Pande Bhote, Nepali owner and guide of Himalaya Guides in Kathmandu to get his take on a few of the big questions out of Chomolungma. A six-time Everest summiteer, Tshering was the first Nepali to earn an International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) guide certification. He is also one of a few to earn New Zealand Mountain Guides Association (NZMGA) & Nepal National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA) qualifications. Here is what he had to say:
ExplorersWeb: What do you see are the biggest issues facing Himalaya climbing today?
Tshering: I don’t find any big issues facing Himalaya climbing today. All over the world the issues are the same. Some people have too much egoism and like to have much credit without much climbing.
ExplorersWeb: Some guides and alpinists have suggested making IFMGA or other certifications mandatory in order to guide on Everest to improve safety. Do you think this is a good idea?
Tshering: It is hard to say. Safety wise it is a good idea to at least have one IFMGA guide in a team.
ExplorersWeb: Mainstream news outlets seemed to have latched onto the notion that the Sherpa are to blame for most of the challenges on Everest (i.e. overcrowding, too many inexperienced climbers on the mountains, tensions between Sherpa and western guides/alpinists, etc). Is this true or is there more to this story?
Tshering: My point of view it is more to the story. I see the same number of climbers for the famous mountains all over the world.
ExplorersWeb: What do you think are key changes that would help prevent bottle-necking at the Hillary Step or fights between Sherpa and foreign climbers?
Tshering: I think key changes that would help prevent bottle-necking at the Hillary Step would be proper fixed ropes before the summit day, one line for ascending and one for descending. I climbed six times to the summit of Mount Everest without any problems.
All climbers have to look back a bit for old climbers where everything was at least twice as heavy, not tested and they didn’t know the route. Now-a-days fixed rope is up the route, gear is light weight tested, better, warmer, at least twice as good as before. It is human nature like to have more and more creature comforts.
I don’t want to talk about fights between Sherpa and foreign climbers. Only one thing I can say is mistake never can be one way.
ExplorersWeb: Finally, is fixing a permanent ladder on the Hillary Step a wise idea?
Tshering: Personally my point of view fixing a permanent ladder on the Hillary step is not wise idea. There should never be any permanent, artificial fixtures on the mountain; keep as it is. Keep nature as it is. All climbers know climbing mountain is risky, that’s why all climbers going to climb mountains accept the risk.
Instead, fix a new rope before the season and take out end of the season. The government should make clear rule and regulation to take care of it and ask it be done by one good related association or organization, which has overall knowledge all about it.
Human waste and rubbish all should be brought down. Also, every climber should pee only in one place every camp, like Alaska’s National Park mountains.
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