Monday, 8 November 2010

Bolts on Ama Dablam

Bolt below the Yellow Tower on Ama Dablam

The Yellow Tower on the classic SW Ridge of Ama Dablam now sports 7 shiny new bolts courtesy of Adventure Consultants. This is the crux of the 'normal' route and is usually fixed using a selection of threads, pegs and snow stakes. The bolts were placed around the 30th October by the AC Sherpa team. There are also a number of bolts on the large boulders above the Ama Dablam Tea House, 10 minutes from the normal base camp, placed to enable their group to practice fixed line techniques.
They undoubtedly make rigging the fixed lines safer for the Sherpa teams who carry out this work and are far less obtrusive than the current mess of rope. However there was no discussion with any of the other commercial or non commercial teams on the mountain or the wider mountaineering community in general. The AC website doesn't mention the bolting in its daily dispatches.
In general they have been well placed and increase the level of safety but one has been positioned in a large detached block while the main anchor at the top of the tower is now two bolts placed approximately 10cm apart. There is also evidence of a couple of bodged placements.
Bolts were placed on the South Col route of Everest a few years ago which caused a furor but rightly or wrongly they now seem to be gaining in acceptance on Himalayan trade routes which are regularly commercially guided. The Sherpas whose country we are visiting and who we ask to rig the fixed lines seem very keen on this development which is far less intrusive than the mess of ropes and rubbish that is usually in place.

The first bolt on the exposed traverse to the Yellow Tower

Bolt and peg anchors below the Yellow Tower.

The main anchor above the Yellow Tower with the bolts placed to close together.