KATHMANDU, Aug 14: A high-level committee formed to review the rules and policies on mountaineering has suggested to the government to bar inexperienced climbers from taking on Mt. Everest.
The suggestion comes against the background of this year's Everest climbing season witnessing the death of nine climbers although there was no major natural disaster around the mountain. Some of the deaths were blamed on overcrowding, or traffic jam, on the summit approaches.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation was widely criticized after the death of so many climbers. Climbing expedition liaison officers deployed from the ministry wrote their reports without even having reached the base camp.
The probe committee has suggested the government conduct thorough background checks before issuing climbing permits for Everest.
Following the criticisms, the Department of Tourism had conducted an internal investigation. According to the investigation, only 22 out of the total number of 37 liaison officers for Everest expeditions had reached base camp at all. The rest, according to the department, didn't really do their work but only pocketed the trekking and daily allowances.
Not satisfied with the department's internal report, the ministry formed the probe committee to review all mountaineering-related rules and policies and come up with practical suggestions to make Everest safer.
The committee headed by Tourism Ministry Joint-secretary Ghanshyam Upadhyay has submitted a 40-page report to Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai.
“We have suggested to the government to bar inexperienced climbers from certain high mountains,” said a committee member, adding that anyone out to climb Everest should first show a climbing certificate.
“Aspiring climbers should show a certificate of having climbed a mountain at least 6,500 to 7,000 meters high,” said the member.
The committee has suggested the government regulate the mountaineering equipment and ensure additional emergency logistics such as supplement oxygen bottles and masks in case of a traffic jam in the high mountains or some other emergency.
In the case of foreign climbers, the committee has suggested the authorities ensure full acclimatization before they are allowed to head for the final push to the summit, and also ensure that liaison officers are actually at base camp during climbing seasons. Officials believe the so-called traffic jams could be eased if the flow of climbers is controlled on the last leg towards the summit.
“A first come first served rule should be implemented while allowing climbers to head for the summit. Liaison officers should regulate the flow of climbers,” said the committee member.
Likewise, expedition companies are suggested to enforce the mountaineering rules strictly .