2015 Everest permits extended for two yearsThe Cabinet has given a green-signal for the Tourism Ministry proposal to extend the climbing permits of hundreds of mountaineers who had been forced to abandon their expeditions last year due to avalanche on the Himalaya triggered by the April 25 earthquake.
The Cabinet has given a green-signal for the Tourism Ministry proposal to extend the climbing permits of hundreds of mountaineers who had been forced to abandon their expeditions last year due to avalanche on the Himalaya triggered by the April 25 earthquake.
The permits will be extended for two years until 2017.
Last year, 103 teams consisting of 801 individuals had received permits to climb various peaks in the Himalayas. Among them, 357 mountaineers including 18 Nepalis had obtained permits to climb Everest.
Normally, Everest aspirants apply for climbing permits between mid-March and April-end. Actual climbing starts in mid-May. The government charges $11,000 per foreign climber and earns nearly $3.5 million in revenue from Everest annually.
Gyanendra Shrestha, an official at the Department of Tourism that issues the climbing permits, said that the mountaineers, including Everest aspirants, who had abandoned their summit bids last year, had been waiting for clearance to make fresh attempts this spring.
“The new provision will be formally implemented within a few days after the Cabinet decision,” Shrestha said. Four groups, including three old ones, have applied for the permit to climb the Everest this spring.
“We expect applications from at least 60 percent of climbers who had abandoned their expeditions last year.”
Mountaineering entrepreneurs have welcomed the government decision. “Though late, it’s a welcoming decision,” said Mingma Sherpa, managing director of Seven Summit Treks.
“At the time when the country is struggling to attract tourists, the government decision to allow climbers to return to the peak until 2017 is likely to boost arrivals,” said Sherpa, the first Nepali climber to conquer 14 eight thousanders of the world.
On top of Rs1.1 million royalty to the government, Sherpa an Everest aspirant on an average spends around Rs4 million during the two-month long climbing season. “An estimated 25-30 people are employed directly by a foreign climber,” he said. “From porters to airlines and hotels to helicopters, all benefits from the climbers.”
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, expects the world’s highest peak will draw another large crowd this spring after being closed for two consecutive years due to deadly disasters.
“Based on inquiries from climbers in 2014 and 2015, we expect this season will be as busy as ever. The two deadly accidents on Everest will not slow demand,” he told the Post in a recent interview.
Sherpa, however, said there were fewer inquiries from new climbers.
On April 18, 2014, an avalanche near the Everest Base Camp killed 16 Nepali guides.
While the rescuers pulled out 13 bodies, the other three were never recovered as search and rescue operations were called off due to “too much risk”. Subsequently, the expedition was called off.
The first post-avalanche ascent took place on May 23, 2014 when Chinese climber Wang Jing reached the summit of Everest.
However, her ascent sparked controversy as she had bypassed the Khumbu Icefall on a helicopter.
The government had extended the Everest climbing permits until 2019 for those climbers who were forced to abandon the mission in 2014. Nearly 334 mountaineers were issued climbing permits that year.
Then in 2015, avalanches set off by the devastating April 25 quake killed 19 climbers, including high-altitude guides and helpers at the base camp and the Khumbu Icefall. There were no Everest bids in the spring of 2015.
The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee had then recommended to the government to extend the climbing permits of the 2015 Everest aspirants until 2016 or beyond.