Nepali Supreme Court Officially Strikes Down Rules Banning Disabled Climbers

Hari Budha Magar double above knee amputee

Earlier this year the Nepali government made headlines when it announced new climbing rules that prohibited disabled climbers from attempting Mt. Everest. Those new regulations were eventually challenges in the country’s Supreme Court, which eventually overturned the new laws. Now, the court has rendered its final verdict on this case, once again siding with the mountaineers.

According to The Himalayan Times, the five-person Nepali Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Deepak Raj Joshee has issued a verdict vacating the revised rules once and for all, clearing the way for double amputees and blind climbers to continue their expeditions into the Himalaya. The move comes after the Nepali government attempt to circumvent the earlier ruling of the court by interesting updated provisions into its existing mountaineer regulations. But a lawyer who represents several disabled climbers petitioned the court to block the move on the grounds that the regulations were a violation of human rights.

The move has been hailed as a victory for disabled individuals from a number of camps, including former Ghurka soldier Hari Budha Magar who plans on making an attempt on Everest in 2019. If successful, he’ll become the first above-the-knee double amputee to complete that climb. Blind climber Amit KC says he’ll also make an attempt on the world’s highest peak next year too, after coming up short in 2017.

This should bring an end to this controversy, which has been swirling around since last fall when word of these potential changes to the climbing rules in Nepal first hit the press. These regulations were criticized roundly when they were first revealed, as most believe that they did nothing to improve safety on Everest and only prevented a small number of climbers from actually making an attempt. On top of that, disabled climbers haven’t actually been the ones who have been dying in the Himalaya, so it was always unclear as to who these rules were protecting. Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed and the big mountains remain open to everyone who wants to give them a go.

Kraig Becker