Use of Fixed Rope

Fixed rope was put in over most of the route between Camps I and II and through the yellow band above Camp III. Our original plan was to pull as much of our rope off the mountain as we could after our summit attempts were over. As our expedition neared its end, a British group showed up at ABC. They had planned to install fixed rope in pretty much the same places we had used it. We cut a deal with them to trade them even for our rope (used but in place) for their rope (new, but not exactly where they needed it to be). The British group promised to clean the rope off the mountain when they were done, but I do not know if this actually happened. It is certainly the case that many ropes have been left on the ice cliff over the years. Sections of these ropes appear out of the ice all along the cliff.

Like the use of oxygen, fixed ropes are controversial. Many large mountains are climbed alpine style, with little or no use of fixed rope. This was the case for the first ascent of Cho Oyo, except for a single rope left at the ice cliff. In our case, fixed ropes made the climb safer and allowed climbers to move up and down the moutain alone, rather than in rope teams as would otherwise be required.