Icefall Doctor – Is this the Most Dangerous Job in the World?

Insight & Opinion

In the heart of the Himalaya lies our planet’s most famous wonder, and perhaps its most extreme, Mount Everest. Working amongst dangers such as avalanches, low oxygen levels, sub zero temperatures, earthquakes and hurricane force winds are the Icefall Doctors, whose job is to rope a secure route through the Khumbu, a lethal maze of crevasses.

Each year 8 men have just two weeks to rope the route otherwise the summit season can’t start. It takes 5 days to arrive at basecamp which they make home for a few weeks whilst they attempt to rope the route. Bad weather typically limits summit attempts to just a few times per year. Before any summits can commence the Icefall Doctors must create a path through Everest’s most fearsome obstacle, the Khumba.

Dangerous Job  - Icefall Doctor

During a typical climbing season the ice will make its way 80m downhill fracturing into huge crevasses and blocks of ice which collapse without warning.

Dangerous Job  - Icefall Doctor

The Khumba is a 2km stretch of lethal moving crevasses.

Dangerous Job  - Icefall Doctor 4

Death in Service – Vacancies come available when Icefall Doctors die on the mountain. Over 200 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest. An Icefall Doctor lashes four ladders together to cross a 10 metre wide crevasse.

Dangerous Job  - Icefall Doctor 3