After 11 deaths, Nepal considers limiting access to Mount Everest

NEPAL : Nepal is considering tightening access to Mount Everest after eleven mountaineers, including four Indians, were killed this climbing season-the largest number of deaths since 1996. Overcrowding and inexperience are being blamed for the deaths.

“We are looking into having a minimum requirement for climbers, fixing more ropes or taking more oxygen and sherpas,” news agency AFP quoted Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary at Nepal’s tourism ministry, as saying.

A photo from May 21 of a long line of mountaineers struggling to make their way to the top of a ridge had gone viral last month. It was when good weather forecast drove around 250 climbers, and almost as many sherpas, to scale the mountain all at once, leading to a long line at a bottleneck, which proved fatal for many.

Generally, all applications received at the NTB are granted permits on a first-come-first-served basis. The NTB awards permit to groups of mountaineers against a payment for $11,000 (approximately Rs 7.65 lakh), plus a refundable deposit of $4,000, which is returned after verifying that the climber has adhered to all regulations. Critics have said that the absence of a policy has allowed many non-serious or inadequately trained individuals to attempt the climb, putting lives at risk. This year, the NTB issued permits to a record 381 climbers in 44 teams.

Unlike Tibet, which caps the number of Everest climbers at 300, there are no limits on the Nepali side, making for an exceedingly profitable — and dangerous — business.

As cheaper operators have entered the fray, the number of climbers has shot up, creating deadly bottlenecks en-route to the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-feet) peak — especially when bad weather cuts the number of summit days, as it did this year.