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with Stefan Nestler

Nepal adopts new rules for Everest and Co.

Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

The time has come. According to reports of the newspapers “Kathmandu Post”  and “The Himalayan Times”, the government of Nepal has adopted some new rules for expeditions – “to improve the safety of the climbers”, as Tourism Secretary Maheswor Neupane said. The new rules apply to all mountains above 6,600 meters – these fall under the responsibility of the government – and will be in force already in the spring season 2018.

No more permits for double amputees and blind climbers

In future neither blind climbers nor double amputees are to receive permits for the highest mountains in the country. “Besides, we have also adopted a strict provision to check the medical certificate of the climbers to determine whether they are physically fit to climb the mountains,” Neupane said. It will be interesting how these checks will be operated.

Missing experience

Andy Holzer on the Rongbuk Glacier near Everest (in 2015)

In recent years, the Nepalese government has repeatedly said that it wanted to keep blind and physically disabled people away from Everest and other very high mountains. “I think very few climbers on Everest are prepared so exactly for their very special challenge Everest as the disabled adventurers with their personal teams are or need to be”, the blind Austrian climber Andy Holzer wrote to me already in 2015. “The real problem is more the climbers who put on their crampons for the first time on Everest and are quite surprised about it.” Last spring, Holzer scaled Everest in his third attempt: as the first blind man from the Tibetan north side.

No solo climbs anymore

Another now adopted amendment will probably also cause a heated debate. According to the new rules every mountaineer will be obliged to climb with a mountain guide. “From now on, foreign climbers will be banned from making a solo attempt on Mt Everest,” Tourism Secretary Neupane said. Supposedly, the government expects this provision to increase employment opportunities for Nepalese guides.

Not one bit safer

So much is certain: These rules will not make Everest or any other crowded eight-thousander one bit safer. Blind or physically handicapped mountaineers are only a tiny minority among the summit aspirants on Mount Everest, as well as those who want to climb the 8850-meter-high mountain solo. The much more important question of mountaineering skills does not seem to be taken into account in the new regulations. After all, in the first reports on the amended expedition rules there was no mention of new minimum requirements for all (!) Everest climbers – such as having climbed at least one seven-thousander or another eight-thousander before.

Date

30. December 2017 | 11:33

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