29 expedition teams head for the world’s highest peaks

April 13, 2014

A total of 29 expedition teams have arrived Namche in Solukhumbu district till Saturday to scale the world’s highest mountains in the region, including Mt Everest, this season.

Program Officer at Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC), Kapindra Rai said the arrival of the expedition teams to scale Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Nuptse is going up.

Rai shared that 22 teams would attempt to climb Mt Everest while four teams would scale Mt Lhotse and the remaining others would climb Mt Nuptse.

The expedition teams are expected to have their registration at SPCC Office in Namche before they scale up the mountains.

Likewise, Rai said that the road construction to the second camp from the first base camp of Mt Everest was completed a week ago.

The number of expedition teams is expected to further increase this year as the government has slashed the royalty to climb Mt Everest.

source: Himalayan Times, 12 April 2014

Nepal to station officials at Mt Everest base camp to control crowds of tourists

March 25, 2014

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

One of the initiatives includes introducing separate fixed ropes for climbers ascending and descending near the summit to help ease the traffic, said a tourism ministry official, Mohan Krishna Sapkota.

A team of government oOfficials will be posted at the base camp located at 5,300m (17,380ft) throughout the spring climbing season to monitor climbers and co-ordinate 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 cancel the climbing permit and even order the climbers to leave the mountain.

Sapkota said the plan was to manage the flow of climbers working with expedition teams during the two or three opportunities in May when the weather is favourable for the climb above the South Col at 8,000m (26,240ft). 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 summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by the New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds of others have died in the attempt.

source: The Guardian, 24 Mar 2014

Govt unveils new mountaineering royalty fee structure

February 16, 2014

The government has reduced the royalty fee for foreigners climbing Mt Everest from the normal route, also known as the South East Ridge, to US$ 11,000 per person with effect from January1 2015. It has also eliminated the existing group royalty system.

Under the group royalty system, foreign climbers had to pay as high as $25,000. The government published the new royalty fee structure in the Gazette published on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), the government reduced the royalty fee based on the suggestion of a committee that it formed last year to recommend revision in mountaineering royalty fee.

Royalty fee for other mountains have also been lowered. Now onwards, foreign climbers need to pay royalty fee in range of $70 to $1,800 per person depending on the height of the mountains they are climbing.

“Individual climbers will benefit from the fresh revision as the individual royalty fee has come down drastically,” Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, joint secretary of MoCTCA, who heads the Tourism Industry Division (TID), told Republica.

Earlier, expedition teams were paying permit fee in the range of $15,000-$70,000 per expedition depending on the route and the number of members. A group could have a maximum of seven members and extra members were charged $10,000 each. Expedition to Mt Everest could have a maximum of 15 members.

“We decided to eliminate the group royalty system to control anomalies like merging different groups into a big group by expedition operators,” Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesperson of MoCTCA, said. “Though they apply as a group while seeking permit, they used to form separate groups before beginning their assault on the mountain.” He further added that the new system would benefit the individual climbers as well as the government.

Sapkota also said they were holding talks with the stakeholders to introduce a provision of ´one climber, one guide´ considering the safety of the climbers.

As per the new provision, Nepali climbers can pay permit fee in local currency. Earlier, they were required to pay in US dollar. Permit fee for Nepali climbers have been fixed between Rs 1,000 to Rs 75,000 per person depending on the height, route and the climbing season. They can also apply to the government for royalty waiver.

Earlier, Nepali climbers used to climb Mt Everest as mountain guides as the royalty fee was high. Also, they had to go through a lengthy procedure for royalty waiver. “The new royalty fee system will encourage more Nepalis to climb Mt Everest,” said Burlakoti. The new royalty fee structure for Nepali climbers will come into effect from Thursday.

source: NTB, 14 Feb 2014

Govt slashes mountaineering fee to attract more climbers

February 13, 2014

The government has made massive cuts in climbers’ royalty fee for peaks including the Mt Everest with an aim at attracting more mountaineers.

Also, the he government for the first time has introduced separate mountaineering royalty fee for Nepali climbers in a bid to get rid of crowds seeking government financial assistance and royalty waiver to climb Mt Everest.

As per the revised rate, $11,000 has been fixed for a foreigner aspiring to climb Mt Everest during the spring season from the normal route (South East Ridge). Earlier, the fee was $25,000 per person. Likewise, $ 10,000 has been fixed for a climber climbing Everest from other routes.

The royalty fee for climbers on the South East Ridge route during autumn has been revised to $5,500 from $12,500, while for summer/winter it has been revised to $2,750 per person from $6,250.

The new royalty fee for foreigners will come into effect from January 1, 2015.

However, the group royalty system will stay in place. A Mt Everest expedition that may have a maximum of 15 members (group) currently costs $10,000 per person. For Nepali climbers, the royalty fee has been set at Rs 75,000 per person during the spring season and Rs 37,500 and Rs 18,250 during the autumn and winter/summer, respectively. The latest fee structure for Nepali climbers will come into effect from February 13, 2014.

Government officials said the royalty fee was very high for Nepalis and it used to take at least a two-month process to get royalty waiver from the government. As a result, many of them were forced to climb mountains as guides of expedition teams. Fixing the minimum royalty amount for Nepalis will end such practices, the officials said.

The royalty fee for foreigners aspiring peaks of 8,000 meters or more (except Everest) has been revised to $1,800 per person from $5,000 during the spring. It will cost $900 and $450 per person during the autumn and winter/summer, respectively.

“The move is aimed at attracting and encouraging more individual climbers in the country,” said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, chief of the Industry Division under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. “We have revised the fee as there were numerous complaints from foreign mountaineers that climbing cost was too high in Nepal.”

A committee formed to recommend on the revision of mountaineering royalty and adoption of necessary measures to make Nepal’s mountain tourism productive had in November last year submitted a report to the government, suggesting a revision of the expedition royalty fee for Mt Everest and other peaks. The revised royalty fee was published in the Nepal Gazette on Wednesday.

The government on July 16, 2013, had completely waived off royalty fee for climbers for peaks located in the mid-and-far western development region for five years. Annually, the government has been collecting more than Rs 240 million in mountaineering royalty.

source: ekantipur, 13 Feb 2014

Qinghai-Tibet Railway Extends to the City Nearest to Mt. Everest in 2014

February 4, 2014

With the completion of track-laying, the railway from Lhasa to Shigatse is expected to be open to traffic in 2014. It means that the world’s highest railway, Qinghai-Tibet Railway has extended further west to Shigatse, the city nearest to Mt. Everest. We will also expand our train tour service to Shigatse and Everest Base Camp.

The Lhasa-Shigatse Railway is 253 km, including 90 kilometers in Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon. It connects the top two tourist cities of Tibet, Lhasa and Shigatse. Lhasa, the capital and the spiritual center of Tibet, is home to many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites, such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka. As Tibet’s second largest city, Shigatse is famous for Tashilhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama. Shigatse is located on the way from Lhasa to Kathmandu, and therefore it is very convenient to travel from Shigatse to other Tibetan areas.

The construction of this line was started in September 2010. By the end of 2012, the project had completed 82.3 kilometers track laying, 27.83 percent of the total construction. In May 2013, its longest tunnel, the 10.41 kilometers Penyinla Tunnel was completed. In September 2013, the railway spanned over the Yarlung Zangbo River for the first time. By November 2013, all the subgrade construction, culverts, tunnels and bridges had been finished.

During the construction, engineers designed route detour around nature reserves and drinking water sources to better protect the fragile plateau environment. The construction cost 13.3 billion Yuan (about 2.1 billion U.S. dollars). The extension line is capable of transporting 8.3 million tons of cargo every year, according to previous reports. Thirteen railway stations were built along the line. The average distance between each station is approximately 22.5 km. The trains are expected to run at a speed of over 120 km/h.

After the completion of the extension line, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will further expand its influence in the region, improve the transportation in southwest Tibet, ameliorate the single highway-based transportation structure and promote the local economic development. Spanning 1,956 km from Xining to Lhasa, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has carried over 13 million passengers to and from Tibet since its launch in July 2006. Its second extension from Lhasa to Nyingchi is under construction. The railway will probably be extended further to Nepal.

With the construction of these new extension lines, tourists can travel in Tibet more easily. The tour cost will also be greatly cut down. For instance, those who are just interested in visiting Mt. Everest can take a train from mainland China to Shigatse directly. Lots of time and money can be saved.

With rich experience in operating Qinghai-Tibet Railway tours, Tibet Travel Org CITS offers various train trips to Tibet from major cities of mainland China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xining.

source: Tibettravel.Org, 23 Jan 2014

Mt. Everest Diamond Jubilee in Slovenia-26 Nov

December 15, 2013

Consulate General of Nepal in Slovenia, Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Alpine Association of Slovenia (PZS), Slovene Ethnographic Museum (SEM) and Museum of Gorenjska are jointly organizing Mt. Everest Diamond Jubilee Celebration on 6 Dec 2013 at SEM, Slovenia. Everest summiteers from Slovenia will be awarded with Everest Diamond Jubilee Medal on the same occasion followed by the presentation of First Ascent of International Expedition of Slovenia to Mt. Everest by Andrej Stremfelj. The program will also have the photographic exhibition titled “Mighty Faces- Top achievements by Slovene Mountaineers in the Himalayas” by Ms. Marija Orgin, Director, Museum of Gorenjska and Ms. Jelena Justin, Advisor of the Museum.

source: Nepal Mountaineering Association, November 2013

Simrik Air starts flights to Lukla

November 7, 2013

Simrik Airlines Pvt. Ltd. has started operating flights to Lukla airport here, easing travel to the gateway to Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain.

Simrik Air has started operating flights by taking aircraft of the Agni Air on lease. Agni Air remains close for a year now.

Unable to get air tickets to fly to Kathmandu from here, many tourists used to feel frustrated. There were only a few flights to this destination given the large number of tourists waiting for air tickets.

Some relief has been felt after Simrik Air started operating flights to Lukla since September.

With Simrik Air, four airlines are operating flights to Lukla. They include Sita Air, Tara Air and Makalu Airways. Sita Air and Makalu Air operate daily four flights to Lukla.

Tara Air has been operating highest number of flights. It operates 30 to 40 flights daily.

Even 60 flights per day including the flights operated by all the airlines companies are inadequate, according to the airlines company operators.

More than 36 thousand foreign tourists visit the Sagarmatha region which is one among the world’s 10 best tourism destinations every year. RSS

source: gorkhapatraonline.com, 06 NOV, 2013

On top of the world

September 15, 2013

The children have seen the mountains earlier. But the white snow, the sun’s reflection on the mountains changing colours in them in accordance to the sun rays were not yet imagined by these little ones from Bal Mandir. However, these 18 children felt the ambience and saw the beauty of the mountains on the fine morning of September 14. This opportunity was given to them by Yeti Airlines with an aim to celebrate Children’s Day.

These children were not ordinary. They were orphans taking shelter in Bal Mandir, Naxal. Selected under the merit basis (discipline and studies), these children got an opportunity to cherish a life long memory of flying on a plane to view the beauty of the Himalayas. Some of the diffrently-abled children also got an opportunity to view the magnificent mountains. They were seen excited and happy after the flight. They were shared their experiences of flight at a press meet organised by the airlines after the flight.

It was not just the flight that gave them memories of a lifetime as comedian Hari Bansha Acharya and his wife Ramila Pathak joined them on their flight to the top of the world. Some media personalities from national and international media houses were also there to watch the mountains with them.

The airlines, that will be completing its 15 years of service on September 21, organised this event to boost the morale of these children.

Kabita Gurung, who is unable to hear and speak, shared her happiness in sign language translated by her friend Nikita Gurung. “When we were flying above the mountains, it was a really wonderful experience. Watching the mountains from such a close distance was never dreamt of, but seeing them and feeling the beauty was really a once in a lifetime experience,” she shared.

Gurung, who was all excited, shared her experiences too. “I had seen the pictures of Mount Everest only in textbooks. The clouds moving near the mountains were just words in my textbooks and in my imagination. Watching Mt Everest, Mt Langtang, Mt Makalu and other mountains was my imagination come alive.”

The event was organised to motivate the children as they do not get such opportunities. “We are also trying to motivate other private organisations to work for such children and help them in making them the pillars of tomorrow,” opined Roshan Regmi, Marketing Manager of Yeti Airlines.

source: ekantipur, 14 Sept 2013