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Tag: Mount Everest

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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

Nepal to ease traffic on Mount Everest

Nepal plans to minimize the congestion of climbers near the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit of Mount Everest, which is clogged with scores of climbers during the short window of good weather, officials said Monday.

One of the initiatives includes the introduction of separate fixed ropes for climbers ascending and descending near the summit to help ease the traffic, said Tourism Ministry official Mohan Krishna Sapkota.

A team of government officials will be posted at the base camp located at 5,300 meters (17,380 feet) throughout the spring climbing season to monitor climbers and coordinate with expedition leaders, he said.

The move follows years of criticism that Nepal has done little to manage the growing number of Everest climbers despite making millions of dollars in fees.

A nine-member government team will set up its own tent at the base camp to report on the activities there, provide help when needed and ensure that climbers are cleaning up behind them. They would also be able to stop any trouble, like last year’s brawl between three foreign climbers and local Sherpa guides.

The officials would include security personnel and would have the power to scrap the climbing permit and even order the climbers to leave the mountain.

Sapkota said the plan is to manage the flow of climbers working with expedition teams during the two or three opportunities in May when the weather is favorable for the climb above the South Col at 8,000 meters (26,240 feet). Climbers refer to it as the “death zone” because of the hostile conditions and little chance of rescue.

The separate ropes would allow the climbers returning from the summit to quickly get back to lower grounds to rest while they would not be blocking fellow climbers on the way to the summit.

More than 800 climbers attempted to scale Everest during the 2013 spring season and the number is expected to be similar this year too, according to the Mountaineering Department.

More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds of others have died in the attempt.

source: mySanAntonio.com, 24 Mar 2014

Cleaning Earth’s highest rubbish dump

Climbers on Mount Everest will be forced to bring back eight kilograms of garbage, an official said on Monday, to clean up a peak that has become the world’s highest rubbish dump.

The rule, one of several new measures covering mountaineering in the Himalayan nation, will apply to climbers ascending beyond Everest’s base camp from April onwards, said tourism ministry official Madhusudan Burlakoti.

“The government has decided in order to clean up Mount Everest that each member of an expedition must bring back at least eight kilos of garbage, apart from their own trash,” he told AFP.

Burlakoti, who is joint secretary at the ministry, said authorities would take legal action against climbers who failed to comply with the new rule, although it was unclear whether this would involve a fine or the confiscation of their mandatory deposit.

Decades of mountaineering have taken a toll on the world’s highest peak, which is strewn with rubbish from past expeditions, including oxygen cylinders, human waste and even climbers’ bodies, which do not decompose in the extreme cold.

Last month Nepal slashed fees for individual climbers on the famed mountain and other Himalayan peaks to attract more mountaineers, sparking concerns of increased traffic and more garbage.

Everest, scaled for the first time by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, is a key revenue-earner for the impoverished country, with hundreds heading there every year during the peak climbing season in April and May.

Under the new rules Everest expeditions will have to take their trash to an office which will be set up next month at base camp.

The office will also offer medical aid and resolve conflicts, with soldiers and police on duty to avoid a repeat of the brawl between European climbers and local guides last year which shocked the mountaineering community.

Dawa Sherpa, expedition manager at Asian Trekking which organises an annual clean-up tour to Everest, said the proposal was “an encouraging measure to try and keep the mountain clean”.

The Eco Everest Expedition has collected some 15 tons of garbage, 600kg of human waste and six bodies since 2008, Sherpa told AFP.

He said local Sherpa guides could collect and deliver trash to base camp instead of returning empty-handed from acclimatisation ascents to set up tents for foreign climbers on the mountain.

“Ultimately, the success of the regulation will depend on how strictly officials monitor its progress,” he said.

Although expeditions currently have to fork out a $4 000 (about R40 000) deposit, refunded once they show they have brought back everything they took up the mountain, enforcement has been a problem.

“Our earlier efforts have not been very effective. This time, if climbers don’t bring back garbage, we will take legal action and penalise them,” tourism official Burlakoti said.

The government is also considering plans to build toilets at base camp, where the shifting ice means structures are at risk of falling down.

In an overhaul of security on the mountain, soldiers and police will be stationed at the new office at base camp so climbers can approach them with any problems, officials said last month.

Environmental and climbing groups have long sought to focus attention on the mess left behind by expeditions while clean-up projects have also been organised.

Discarded oxygen and cooking gas cylinders, ropes, tents, glasses, beer cans, plastic and even the remains of a helicopter made up 75 artworks commissioned for a Kathmandu exhibition in 2012, highlighting the environmental impact of alpine tourism.

source: Independent Online, 04 Mar 2014

Nepal to double ropes on Everest to cut traffic snarls

Nepal will double the number of climbing ropes on Mount Everest in a bid to cut traffic and prevent brawls on the world’s highest peak, climbing expedition organisers said on Thursday.

Extra ropes will be fixed on congested ice walls near the Everest summit where climbers have faced frustrating bottlenecks and delays in the past, said Dambar Parajuli, president of the national Expedition Operators Association.

The move is one of a string of new measures to be introduced this climbing season, which begins in late April, after a brawl last year between European climbers and local guides made global headlines.

The brawl fuelled worry that overcrowding on the ‘roof of the world’ was raising tensions and leading to dangerous standoffs.

“We are going to fix double ropes in congested and difficult turnings… the new ropes will definitely help the climbers and minimize the traffic,” Parajuli told AFP.

“Climbers will not have to wait long in a place because of lack of ropes… I am hopeful this time no brawls will take place because of ropes.”

The fight last summer erupted when the Nepalese asked the mountaineers to wait while they fixed ropes on an ice wall for climbers.

The Europeans refused, saying they were free to ascend since they did not need to use the ropes, sparking a violent argument.

Sherpa guides will fix the extra ropes from April onwards at various spots deemed ‘danger zones’, including Yellow Band and the Hillary Step, named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who, with Tenzing Norgay, scaled the peak for the first time in 1953.

Extra ropes will also lower safety risks for mountaineers by helping exhausted climbers avoid dangerous, time-consuming bottlenecks while descending from the peak.

In recent weeks, Nepal has introduced a raft of measures to boost its key tourism sector, including a sharp cut in mountaineering fees for a range of peaks.

Authorities have also decided to station soldiers and police at Everest base camp so climbers can approach officers in case of any trouble.

The government has said each climber scaling Everest will have to bring back eight kilograms (17.6 pounds) of garbage in an effort to clean up a mountain that has become the world’s highest rubbish dump.

More than 300 people have died on Everest since the first successful summit.

source: DECCAN CHRONICLE, 13 Mar 2014

Everest climbers must collect 8kg of trash under new Nepal rule

Climbers scaling Mount Everest will have to bring back eight kilograms of garbage under new rules designed to clean up the world’s highest peak, a Nepalese official said on Monday.

The rule, one of several new measures for mountaineering in the Himalayan nation, will apply to climbers ascending beyond Everest’s base camp from April onwards, said tourism ministry official Madhusudan Burlakoti.

“The government has decided in order to clean up Mount Everest, each member of an expedition must bring back at least eight kilos of garbage, apart from their own trash,” he said.

Mr Burlakoti said authorities would take legal action against climbers who failed to comply with the new rule, although it was unclear whether this would involve a fine or other penalty.

Decades of mountaineering have taken a toll on the peak, which is strewn with rubbish from past expeditions, including oxygen cylinders, human waste and even climbers’ bodies, which do not decompose in the extreme cold.

Expeditions will have to submit their trash to an office to be set up next month at base camp. It will also offer medical aid and resolve conflicts, after a brawl between European climbers and local guides last year.

Although expeditions currently have to fork out a US$4,000 deposit (S$5,068), refunded once they show they have brought back everything they took to the mountain, enforcement has been a problem.

“Our earlier efforts have not been very effective. This time, if climbers don’t bring back garbage, we will take legal action and penalise them,” Mr Burlakoti said.

Last month Nepal slashed fees for individual climbers to Everest and other Himalayan peaks to attract more mountaineers, sparking concerns of increased traffic and more trash on the mountains.

In an overhaul of security on the mountain, the new office at base camp will station soldiers and police so climbers can approach officers with any problems, officials said last month.

Environmental and climbing groups have long sought to focus attention on the waste problem while clean-up projects have also been organised.

Discarded oxygen and cooking gas cylinders, ropes, tents, glasses, beer cans, plastic and even the remains of a helicopter made up 75 artworks commissioned for a Kathmandu exhibition in 2012, highlighting the environmental impact of alpine tourism.

Everest is a key revenue-earner for the impoverished country, with hundreds scaling the mountain every year during the peak climbing season in April and May.

source: news.asiaone, 05 Mar 2014

Litterbugs not welcome in world’s highest peak

Litterbugs, beware: Nepal is making new rules to persuade trekkers to clean up after themselves on Mount Everest, in the hopes of clearing the tons of rubbish now clogging the world’s highest peak.

Starting this spring, Nepali officials at Everest base camp will check that each climber descends the mountain with approximately 8 kg of trash— the amount the government estimates an exhausted climber discards along the route.

“We are not asking climbers to search and pick up trash left by someone else,” said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, head of the mountaineering department at the Tourism Ministry. “We just want them to bring back what they took up.”

The goal is to make sure no new trash will be left on Everest, which has earned the nickname “the world’s highest garbage dump” because of the tons of crumpled food wrappers, shredded tents and spent oxygen cylinders littering the mountain.

The government has long asked climbers to clear their trash, but there was no mechanism to check what people brought down. There also was little or no enforcement despite threats — which were rarely carried out — to withhold $4,000 climbing deposits for polluting teams.

The government did not say what action it would take against climbers who descend without the trash.

Some 230,000 people — nearly half of Nepal’s yearly foreign visitors — came last year specifically to trek the Himalayas, with 810 attempting to scale Everest.

More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds of others have died in the attempt, while many have succeeded only with help from oxygen tanks, equipment porters and Sherpa guides.

Nepal authorities have never had much control over what happens at the mountain’s extreme altitudes and remote regions. Instead, private trekking companies organise logistics and report any problems. They are also left to clear the trash, launching yearly expeditions to bring down the items tossed by the last season’s climbers.

“There is no way to say how much garbage is still left on Everest,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been leading Eco Everest Expeditions since 2008. “It is impossible to say what is under the ice.”

Still, Sherpas and environmentalists applauded the government’s new clean-up rules.

“This rule should have been introduced a long time back,” said Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association. “It is going to make sure that climbers obey the rules.”

source: The Kathmandu Post, 05 Mar 2014