A month back I posted an article about a potential new set of rules for climbing Everest and other Himalayan peaks that were coming our way courtesy of the Nepali government. At the time, the story received a lot of attention, with several outlets discussing the potential changes while also dismissing the new rules as simple grandstanding by Nepalese officials. In some cases, I read articles that basically said there was nothing to worry about and that the new regulations would likely never come about as Nepal was notorious for talking a big game but never really producing any significant changes. The people who said that couldn’t have been more wrong however, as these new rules have now passed and are in effect heading into the spring climbing season for 2018.
So what exactly did the Nepali Council of Ministers change? For starters, they have now banned all climbers who are blind, have double amputations, and are seen as “medically unfit” to be on Everest or other big Himalayan peaks. What “medically unfit” means exactly remains up for interpretation. The now provisions also ban any climbers under the age of 16 and require all climbers attempting Everest to have at least one mountain guide. In other words, the era of any potential solo summits is over.
The new regulations aren’t all bad however. The Council has also deemed that all Sherpas, mountain guides, and high-alitutde porters who reach the summit of any of the peaks in Nepal will receive a summit certificate. This has been a spot of contention in the past, as those certificates have often been withheld from locals who are working in support of foreign clients.
Earlier this fall, Hari Budha Magar, who is a former Ghurka soldier who lost both of his legs in combat, successfully climbed Mera Peak
in preparation for Everest this spring. His story brought a lot of inspiration to people around the globe, even garnering the attention of actor Tom Hardy
. But now, Magar won’t be allowed to climb Everest, at least from the South Side, as he has planned. Presumably, he will instead travel to Tibet and attempt the mountain from the North, provided the Chinese don’t also change their regulations prior to the start of the spring season.
These new rules were made in an attempt to bring safety to the mountain, but there are far more effective ways that that could have been accomplished. For instance, requiring a climber to have successfully summited another 8000 meter mountain prior to attempting Everest or limiting the number of climbers on the mountain. Of course, those regulations would also hurt Nepal’s bottom line, so they were never really on the table. I’d also contend that not very many blind climbers even attempt Everest, nor do I recall a double-amputee perishing on the mountain, so these provisions really aren’t having that much of an impact. The age limit of 16 was pretty much already in place, although the elimination of solo attempts – which impacts very few alpinists – is annoying.
Thankfully the Sherpas are at least getting their summit certificates. Otherwise, these new rules are mostly rubbish.
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