Nepal Supreme Court Overturns Rules Banning Disabled Climbers

Amit KC

Well that didn’t take long.

Yesterday I posted a story about a legal brief that was filed with the Supreme Court in Nepal asking to overturn new regulations that banned disabled climbers from Everest, most notably blind mountaineers and double amputees. This new rule has been widely criticized in the mountaineering community, and apparently rightly so. The highest court in Nepal took very little time in rendering its judgement, ordering the government to remove the clause altogether.

Several lawyers argued in front of the court on behalf of disabled climbers saying that the new rules were discriminatory against the disabled. They argued that not only were the new regulations unconstitutional under Nepali law, but they were in violation of United Nations conventions as well. Apparently those argument were well founded, as the five-person Supreme Court quickly issued a request to the Council of Ministers in Nepal to withdraw these new regulations.

This is good news for a number of climbers with disabilities who had hoped to attempt Everest this year or next. Most notably amongst them is Hari Budha Magar, a double-amputee who summited Mera Peak this past autumn and had hoped to potential go to Everest this spring. Magar lost both of his legs above the knee while serving as a British Ghurka soldier in Afghanistan.

Officials from the Department of Tourism have indicated that they would comply with the court order once it is officially given to them. They have heard and understand the ruling, but have yet to get the official paperwork. That formality should be taken care of shortly however, clearing the way for these climbers to proceed to Everest this spring.

All I can say is that this is good news all around. I’ve been fairly critical of these new rules and I’m happy to see that they won’t stand and the disabled climbers will get their chance. Well done Nepal. (That’s something I don’t get to say often!)

Kraig Becker