A French mountaineer to test the feasibility of a recently explored new trail to Mount Everest

At a press conference organized by Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation, 70-year-old Marc Batard claimed that the alternative route is rocky and much safer than the existing one.

Khumbu Glacier, Everest Base Camp, Nepal on November 1, 2021. Photo: Shree Gurung

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Nepal government is likely to give a go-ahead to test the feasibility of a newly explored route to Mount Everest, officials said.

In a program to announce the launch of a new route to Mount Everest, the Initiation of the Tourism Revival Committee under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation informed that the new route will be opened this spring. 

A joint team from Nepal and France had explored an alternative route to the summit. According to the officials at the Ministry, the new route was first explored the last November. 

The fieldwork started in November 2021. A renowned French climber, Marc Batard, said that he and his team explored the new route in November. The plan, however, started in spring. Marc came to Nepal in spring and made an aerial survey of the proposed route.

Following the exploration, Nepal-France joint team conducted fieldwork including an aerial survey of the newly explored route. In the same month, a seven-member team also climbed the new route. The expedition was led by Marc Batard, a French mountaineer and Pasang Nuru Sherpa, an experienced mountaineer from Nepal.

The new route, according to officials and mountaineers, will help mountaineers to skip the passage through the Khumbu Icefall, the riskiest stretch of the current route to the world’s highest mountain. 

Talking to Nepal Live Today, Marc Batard, 70, shared that the quest of finding a new route was materialized last year. “New route is comparatively safer as climbers can attempt to scale the world’s highest peak escaping the treacherous and dangerous icefall section.”

According to him, the new route can prevent the deaths of aspiring climbers. “It is always heart-wrenching to hear about many deaths reported in the treacherous icefall section with a large number of climbers needing to cross the section multiple times during their expedition to Mt Everest or Mt Lhotse,” he said. “That’s why we initiated the exploration of the new and comparatively safe route above the base camp.” 

Last year, in a helicopter, he observed the region in quest of a new route, found one, put together a team to set up ropes, and now they are about to conclude the task.

“In the future, I am sure that many expeditors will want to climb by this route,” he said. The new route is rockier, there is a slim chance of avalanche, according to Batard. Once the new route gets a permit from the government, the mountain climbers will get a chance to choose between the icefall section or the new route which is 300 meters longer.

In photo: Marc Batard

Batard first visited Nepal to expedite Pisang Peak, a famous trekking peak in the Annapurna region back in 1979. Mesmerized by Nepal’s beauty, he made it his destination repeatedly thereafter. “In my first visit to Nepal, its natural beauty hooked me the most, attracted me,” he said. 

Batard first made a solo winter 18-hour ascent of Dhaulagiri in December 1987 via the West Pillar to the summit and then down the normal route, the Northwest Ridge, to the Base Camp in April 1988. In preparation for Everest, Batard also scaled Cho Oyu in only 19 hours in early September 1988. He had also climbed his first eight-thousander, Gasherbrum II in Pakistan, already in 1975, opening a new route via the South Ridge.

Marc said he wants to become the oldest person to climb Everest without oxygen.

In 2011, former Foreign Minister Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya tried to become the oldest person to climb Everest with oxygen. Unfortunately, the 81-year-old politician died due to acute mountain sickness.