Firm pushes for safety improvements

'We will continue to lobby for what we believe'

CHE BAKER
Last updated 15:08 30/05/2014
Guy Cotter
Fairfax NZ

GUY COTTER: Adventure Consultants chief executive says the firm lobbied for safety improvements on Mt Everest.

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Adventure Consultants lobbied hard for a safer pass for Sherpas but no one listened. Reporter Che Baker speaks with chief executive Guy Cotter who is back home in Wanaka.

For every successful expedition on Mt Everest, Guy Cotter was thankful.

Thankful, because he knew one day a serious - if not fatal - icefall was going to happen.

He was right.

April 18 became Everest's worst disaster after 16 Sherpas were killed at the Khumbu Icefall - three of which were a part of Cotter's company the Adventure Consultants crew.

''Some might say it was a matter of time. We all had hoped it wouldn't have happened. At the end of every season we had been thankful it hadn't happened,'' Cotter said.

''Ever since we first went there (in the early 1990s), it was a risk ... This is one of those places where hazards exists and will continue to be a risk.''

Before the season started this year, he lobbied the Nepal government to allow a helicopter to be used to transport equipment above the notorious ice fall to make it safer for Sherpas.

The helicopters would only be used for one day before climbers arrived, and for one day after the season to take the gear away.

The area was the most hazardous for Sherpas, who could pass the icefall up to 18 times a season, where as further up the mountain was more hazardous for climbers.

''We will continue to lobby for what we believe is the right regulations and adjustments to regulations to reduce the exposure (of risk) to Sherpas,'' he said.

However, a similar accident could happen at anytime, he said.

''We are very realistic that all we are trying to do is reduce exposure,'' he said.

The Adventure Consultants team who led the rescue co-ordination after the icefall have arrived back in Wanaka and preparations were under way to plan next year's expedition.

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