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23.4.2009 Ways of climbing

Antti checks whether the crampons are sharpened correctly!
Today we would like to discuss a bit about the "styles" of climbing of Everest. None of the used styles is more right than the other, everything relates to individual climber's ethics and how ascent is defined. Climbing over 8000m peaks the most demanding and appreciated style is to climb unsupported and without supplemental oxygen. Without supplemental oxygen is easy definition. Term "unsupported" is more difficult to define. For example we carry all needed equipment to the higher camps by ourselves and work independently above the base camp. However, the idea of fully unsupported expedition is not true since we will use the common fixed ropes above the basecamp with other expeditions and the service in the basecamp is arranged by our local trekking company.

The "expedition" style of climbing includes using fixed ropes and stocking higher camps bit by bit for the summit assault. The "alpine" style, on the contrary, means moving up with minimal equipment without setting up high camps in advance.

In Everest basic routes (both North and South) the expedition style is the most used one. Setting the high camps and fixing the ropes is economical due to high amount of climbers using these routes. Next thing to decide is the use of services in the high camps and the use of sherpas to carry equipment to high camps. When we sweat with 15-20kg backbags heading for higher camps there are sherpas doing the same. And climbers using sherpas can move to high camps with small backbag carrying some water, food and down jacket for breaks. Also when we arrive at the camp site, start to build the base for the tents and finally pitch the tent the ones with sherpas will arrive in a readymade camp and can start resting straight away.

In the end these are all individual choices made by certain criteria. Even though previous experience on glacier travel and mountaineering should be the starting point all these can be bought starting on how to wear harness, crampons, ice axe and how to use them on the way up.

Based on the basic principle of expeditions made by Airborne Ranger Club of Finland we have made our choice. Just like the members of over 30 other expeditions have made their choices. Everyone has his/her's opinion on how to reach the summit - from solo climb without supplemental oxygen to personal sherpa that will take him/her to the summit.

All is well.