Nepal is considering to ban lone mountaineers from climbing peaks, including Mt Everest, to minimise accident risks on the Himalayas.
In addition to a ban on lone attempts, the government is also mulling over restricting people with complete blindness, double amputation, as well as those above 75 years of age, from attempting to scale mountains.
A draft of an amendment to the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation under the Tourism Act, which has been prepared by the Department of Tourism, states that every individual climber attempting to scale Mt Everest must take along at least a mountain guide, while a climbing guide should accompany two climbers on other peaks above 8,000 metres. Only those mountaineers who have successfully summitted at least a peak above 7,000 metres in Nepal shall be allowed to apply for a permit to climb mountains above 8,000 metres, including Mt Everest, the draft reads.
“Nepali climbers, however, can apply for a climbing permit after successfully completing a basic mountaineering training of at least 30 working days.”
The proposed provision also authorises the licence-holder trekking agency to represent the mountaineering team during the period of expedition.
According to the draft, pregnant women, as well as persons with severe illnesses ranging from cancer, diabetes, hypertension, depression and respiratory infection, shall not be allowed to work as liaison officers.
The DoT, which recently stopped issuing summit certificates to climbing Sherpas, also proposes a new provision in the regulation to ensure that sirdars, mountain guides and high-altitude workers who accompany expedition members shall get certificates after summitting mountains.
While the existing regulation only bars youngsters below 16 years of age from obtaining climbing permits, the draft prescribes a ban on climbers above 75 years of age from climbing the peaks.
If the new age limit is applied, it will impact Nepali climber Min Bahadur Sherchan and Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura who announced to set a competitive record in their 80s on Mt Everest.
The regulation adds that the climbers who want to set new records on mountains should follow other conditions set by DoT.
The draft states that climbers shall not be allowed to fly to higher camps for summit attempt and every climber must trek to summit point from the base camp of the expedition peaks.
However, choppers can ferry rope-fixing equipment and conduct emergency evacuations.
DoT’s Director General Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal claimed that DoT would forward its amendment proposal to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation for further action by next week.
A version of this article appeared in print on July 19, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.