Putting a Ladder at the Peak of Mt. Everest

It's more crowded than you'd think at 29,029 ft.

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Tim Chong / Reuters

Mount Everest, the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen from air during a mountain flight from Kathmandu.

It might seem like an unlikely place to get stuck in line. But climbing Mt. Everest has become so popular — about 150 people reach the top on the best days — that mountaineering officials are considering installing a ladder from the Hillary Step to the summit to avoid overcrowding. But there’s a catch: climbers will only be able to use the ladder for descents, not ascents.

The Guardian reports:

This year, 520 climbers have reached the summit of Everest. On 19 May, around 150 climbed the last 3,000 feet of the peak from Camp IV within hours of each other, causing lengthy delays as mountaineers queued to descend or ascend harder sections.

The Hillary Step, one of the last final steps before climbers reach the summit, is known for its 40 ft. of nearly sheer vertical rock face at 29,000 ft. It is named for Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first men to successfully climb Everest along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, nearly 60 years ago on May 29, 1953.

Many people, including Apa Sherpa, who climbed Everest a record 21 times before retiring, are supportive of the measure. Pertemba Sherpa, who climbed Everest’s southwest face in 1975, said that safety should be the foremost concern. “The route is changing, there is more rock, less ice and snow. It’s very dangerous. For [the] safety of Sherpas, this is good.”

(PHOTOS: Sir Edmund Hillary: First Ascent of Mount Everest)