KATHMANDU, July 30: The mountaineering activities that had been suspended by the government for nearly five months have resumed from today.
The government has opened mountain peaks across the country for climbers and the Department of Tourism (DoT) has started issuing permits starting Thursday. “The cabinet meeting last week had decided to resume the mountaineering activities and the decision is being implemented from today,” said Mira Acharya, director of DoT. “Mountains are open for this year’s autumn season.”
Acharya informed Republica that the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is still discussing the quarantine modality for international visitors who come to Nepal for mountaineering purposes. “We are yet to get clear instructions from the ministry about it,” she told Republica. The spring season climbing was put into halt after the risk of COVID-19 spread intensified. As a precautionary measure for the safety of climbers, the country suspended all climbing permits for the spring season this year.
Meanwhile, the country has lifted a three-month long lockdown allowing services to resume operation. Hotels, trekking and mountaineering services are coming into operation from today while the regular international air services will resume starting August 17. Though the inflow of tourists has come to a grinding halt for four months, tourism entrepreneurs say there are tourists who are yet to cancel their bookings and want to visit the country in autumn.
Foreign climbers need to pay US$ 125 per person as royalty to the government for expeditions to mountains up to 6,500 meters during the autumn season whereas the cost is $900 per person for mountains higher than 8,000 meters. Likewise, Nepalis need to pay Rs 2,000 per person to climb mountains up to 6,500 meters and Rs 5,000 for peaks above 8,000 meters, except Everest, in the autumn season. The permit fee is $5,500 for the normal route of Everest and $5,000 for other routes of Everest for foreigners.
A total of 414 peaks have been opened for mountaineering in Nepal. According to the department, 75 of them remain unclimbed.