Nepal has proposed some changes to its permit process for the climbers of Mount Everest, following the deaths of eleven climbers this year. The proposals along with the associated criticism are listed below:
– Climbers must provide proof of having climbed at least one 6,500m peak in Nepal. Critics say that limiting this provision only to Nepal is pointless.
– A certificate of good health must be submitted by the climbers. Critics argue that it is easy to falsify such certificates or find a docile doctor.
– The guides must have at least three years of experience in conducting high-altitude climbs. Critics say so many Sherpas claim such experience that virtually all outfitters will qualify.
Veterans are Dubious about the Proposed Changes
Experienced climbers of Mount Everest are skeptical that newly proposed regulations by the Nepalese Government will resolve the root causes of this year’s heavy death toll on the world’s tallest peak. The plan is to strengthen the permit process for the adventurers by adding these regulations.
American mountaineers Ed Viesturs and Alan Arnette are concerned that if the new regulations are introduced, will they be able to curb the growing trend of ‘rookie’ climbers rushing in packs to scale the 29,035-foot (8,850-metre) Himalayan peak.
According to Arnette, every year since 2013, something goes wrong and they (the Nepal Government) announce all new rules but never implement them.
Eleven climbers perished on Mount Everest this year, nine on the Nepali side and two on the Tibetan side. This happened following a rush to climb the mountain during a short window of suitable weather. It led to a “traffic jam” near the summit.
“Most teams opt to go for the summit when the first weather window is predicted”, Viesturs told Reuters in one of a series of interviews by phone and email.
“Everyone is afraid of missing what might be the one and only perfect day. There are typically several good summit days, but there’s pressure to go when everyone else goes.”
Traditionally, Nepal has issued climbing permits to anyone who had paid the fee of $11,000. Nepal issued a record-breaking 381 passes this year. More than 800 people, including essential Sherpas and guides, were trying to reach the summit during the short weather window.
Rush in the Death Zone
A photograph of a queue of climbers stepping over bodies to reach the summit went viral. It caused fatal delays in the thin air in what is known as the “death zone” above 8,000 meters. That raised concerns that inexperienced mountaineers were being encouraged to try the climb by immoral guide companies.
Arnette commented about the changes that, the first change was not enough, given the chance to forge medical documents, while the second made little sense as many climbers have scaled higher peaks elsewhere.
Viesturs, who has extensive experience on Everest, said the proposed regulations did not do enough to handle the “group think” pack mentality that led to the traffic jam in late May. He said climb leaders at the base need to address the problem.
“I know several climbers who waited until later and had the mountain almost to themselves,” Viesturs said referring to this year’s climbing season. “We really need to answer why so many people are on the summit ridge on the same day? How can you control it?”
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