Mount Everest Ladder Rung
The Mount Everest Ladder Rung made its debut in the First Edition of the Mini Museum. We are proud to offer it once more as a stand-alone item. A significant portion of the proceeds from this specimen will be passed on to local communities in Nepal to help fund additional cleanup efforts on Mount Everest. Details below!
Mount Everest (Nepali: Sagarmatha सगरमाथा; Tibetan: Chomolungma ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ; Chinese: Zhumulangma 珠穆朗玛) is the tallest mountain in the world. The peak lies directly on the border of Nepal and China, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.
Above: Mount Everest as seen from an aircraft from airline company Drukair in Bhutan. The aircraft is south of the mountains, facing north.
Those who would ascend those heights face many dangers along the way, including the Khumbu glacier and its treacherous icefall. Aluminum ladders play a crucial role in the traversal of the deep and wide crevasses that cut into the glacier surface, as well as tricky ascents over ridges of ice.
Above: Crossing a wide crevasse on an aluminum ladder (Source: BBC "Crossing Everest’s deadly slopes"). Watch the video on YouTube.
Khumbu is the highest glacier in the world; its altitude ranges from 4,900 m (16,100 ft) to 7,600 m (24,900 ft).
Above: Panorama of Mount Everest and surrounding peaks with the Khumbu Glacier in the foreground.
Lightweight, aluminum ladders play a crucial role in the traversal of dangerous crevasses on the surface of the Khumbu glacier.Above: Video of a climber crossing a ladder bridge over a crevasse.
Yet, after supporting the weight of thousands of people each year and taking enormous punishment from sharpened steel crampons, the ladders eventually reach the point of fatigue. The rungs bend and break and the ladders are replaced.
Above: Macro image of crampon marks.
This specimen is a precision-cut segment of an aluminum ladder rung retrieved from the Khumbu glacier during a massive cleanup effort in 2018. Hans personally procured this specimen in Khumjung, Nepal in the summer of 2019. Details about the trip appear below.
Above: Example ladder rungs. Each is 2mm thick and diameters range from 2.5cm to 3.8cm (~1" to 1.5"). Shapes and conditions are highly variable.
The specimen comes in a classic, glass-topped riker display box measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included.
Please Note: You should not expect to receive a perfectly round specimen. The ladder rung segments are all 2mm thick, but the diameter, shape, and condition vary widely. Diameters range from just under 1" (2.5cm) to 1.5" (3.8cm). Some segments have significant crampon marks along the edges, while others are relatively clean. As shown, some segments have undergone tremendous stress.
How to Clean the Tallest Mountain in the World?
~ Hans Fex, Creator and Chief Curator of the Mini Museum
It seems like a simple thing, but the removal of a ladder or any equipment from the slopes of the tallest mountain in the world is a monumental task.
Each year more than 40,000 people visit Mount Everest, and hundreds go on to the summit. In their wake, they leave behind many thousands of pounds of refuse and discarded equipment.
The cleanup task rests on the backs (quite literally) of the local Sherpas who personally carry each load down and trek it on to local villages for storage and eventual removal. However, keeping up with this endless wave is nearly impossible due to a lack of funds and the physical task of hauling it all down.
During the summer of 2019, I traveled to Nepal in search of new specimens for the collection, including the Tethys Ocean specimen in Age of Dinosaurs.
Above: Images from Kathmandu.
While in Kathmandu, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of Dawa Steven Sherpa, managing director of the legendary mountaineering firm Asian Trekking. Dawa Steven told me about the challenge the Sherpas face and encouraged me to travel to the remote village of Khumjung to see for myself.
Above: Images from my trek to Khumjung.
With Dawa Steven’s invaluable assistance and support, I traveled from Kathmandu to Lukla by plane and then on by foot, trekking 55 km (34 mi) one-way to Khumjung. I made the roundtrip journey with the amazing Pasang Sherpa, and I am forever grateful for both his kindness and companionship on the trek.
Above: The truly amazing Pasang Sherpa. We did the 110km roundtrip in just a few days.
At 3,790 m (12,430 ft), Khumjung is just a few kilometers from Mount Everest, making it an ideal collection point for equipment brought down from the mountain. But, as Dawa Steven said, getting it out of Khumjung is another matter entirely.
Above: Images of Khumjung from my trek. Capturing the scale of anything in the Himalayas is almost impossible.
I went to Khumjung hoping to procure a few simple items we might offer in a future Mini Museum. Yet, at that moment, standing there in that beautiful village, I knew that we could help in a way that no one else could. So that’s exactly what we’re setting out to do.
Above: Digging in.
As noted above, a significant portion of the proceeds from this specimen will be passed on to local communities in Nepal to help fund additional cleanup efforts, including bringing the material all the way down.
Above: Piles of debris I encountered on my way back from Khumjung.
We may not be able to remove all the debris from the mountain but we can make a real difference. In many ways, this is why I started Mini Museum in the first place and we are happy and grateful to continue that journey with your support!