Nepalese Sherpa workers are fixing the final route to the summit of Mount Everest and the first climb of the season could be days away.
High winds and snow near the summit on Friday were slowing down the work but the first climb could happen as early as Sunday, said government official Gyanendra Shrestha, who is stationed at base camp. The workers were fixing ropes above the last camp before the final approach to the summit, at South Col, located at around 8,000 meters (26,240 feet), he said.
The Nepalese Tourism Department has issued a record number of permits to 317 climbers to attempt scale the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit this year. An equal number or more of Nepalese Sherpa guides will be accompanying them.
May is the best month to climb Everest and there are at least a couple of windows of favorable weather on the summit. Last year, the Nepalese government issued permits to 289 climbers. The 2015 season was scrapped after 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides. A renowned Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, who was training to scale Everest, was killed on Sunday.