Kathmandu: The highest peak in the world, Mt Everest, has seen a historic number of successful climbers this year. According to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, 467 climbers successfully reached the highest point on earth from Nepal or the south side as of Wednesday. And, the spring expedition on Everest is yet to be over.
“The figure is the highest ever on the top of Everest,” spokesperson of the ministry Mohan Krishna Sapkota said. “There are a number of climbers still waiting for their turn in the Everest balcony.”
Every year, the ‘fair weather window’ on Everest opens for 4-5 days, while this year around, it has opened for more than a week now. Normally, there are two seasons for climbing the mountain—autumn and spring. However, climbing in the autumn season is difficult given the cold weather and snowfall.
The highest number of successful climbers in Everest was recorded in 2012 when 406 individuals made it to the top. Statistics at the ministry show that 385 individuals climbed the peak in 2008 when China issued a ban on climbing from the north face until May 10, 2008, in preparation for the Beijing Olympic torch run to Everest’s summit. As a result, on May 22, 2008, there was a record of 135 making it to the top of Everest on a single day. However, the record was broken on May 19 last year when 179 individuals reached the top on a single day due to a “traffic jam” caused by the small ‘weather window.’
“The increased number of Everest aspirants every year has its positive impact on the country’s tourism, but the negative consequences should not be overlooked,” said Ang Tshiring Sherpa, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association. On the commercial side, the expeditions generate seasonal employment and revenue. Climbing Everest is relatively expensive as a permit ranges from US$10,000 to US$70,000, depending on the size of the team. In addition, climbing gear, oxygen and other equipment and food for a climber to reach the summit may cost in excess of US$10,000.
“However, negative consequences emerge when it is highly commercialized,” Sherpa said, adding that at least the government should check the climbing experience of people who aspire to scale Everest.
Mountaineering officials said a lack of training or experience leads to accidents and missing cases on Everest. Allowing free climbing permits to foreigners without Nepali guides and potters are another factor for many tragedies on Everest, they added. So far, seven mountaineers have died on Everest this season.