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Local-Guide Requirement Considered for Nepal Peaks

Struggling to cope with a crush of climbers and garbage on Mount Everest, Nepal is also considering a proposal that would require every foreign climber to hire a local guide to ascend the country’s highest peaks.

The intention is to increase local employment in an industry that is increasingly reliant on foreign guides, officials said Thursday. The policy could also help avoid the kind of on-mountain disputes that led to a confrontation last year when three professional climbers from abroad told a group of Sherpas that they wanted to climb on their own.

Officials from Nepal plan to present the proposal at a meeting of Himalayan nations, including Pakistan, India and China, which is scheduled to be held in Katmandu, Nepal’s capital, next month. Nepal hopes to persuade its counterparts to adopt similar policies, which would require the employment of local guides by climbers ascending any mountain higher than 8,000 meters, or about 26,250 feet.

“We want to ensure the safety of climbers and generate job opportunities for local guides to boost our economy,” said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, a joint secretary at Nepal’s tourism ministry.

If adopted, the policy would go into effect for the 2015 climbing season, Mr. Burlakoti said.

Nepal’s government announced on March 3 that it would require every climber returning from the summit of Mount Everest to bring back at least 18 pounds of garbage, the first concerted effort to eliminate the estimated 50 tons of trash that has been left on the mountain over the past six decades. The waste includes empty oxygen bottles, torn tents and discarded food containers.

The government also announced that it would lower the fees for foreigners to climb Mount Everest to $10,000 from $25,000.

It is unclear whether the measures will improve the climbing experience. In recent years, lines of hundreds of climbers have snaked up Mount Everest, creating a dangerous situation in poor weather. On a single day in 2012, 234 climbers reached the peak, with some unable to stand on Mount Everest’s highest point because of the crush of people.

source: The New York Times, 27 Mar 2014

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