A translated article from Ujyaalo Online by Mira Acharya, Director of the Mountaineering Branch of the Department of Tourism, about mountaineering in Nepal this year.
30th May 2021
According to Hark Gurung’s study, there are about 1110 mountains in Nepal that can be climbed. Of these, the Government of Nepal has opened 414 mountains for climbing. Out of the opened mountains, permission has been granted for climbing 16 mountains in the spring climbing season of this year.
Of the 742 people who have taken permission to climb in the spring, 408 have taken permission to climb Mt. Everest. In this sense, there seems to be a lot of attraction in climbing Mt. Everest. Most of the other small mountain climbers are also preparing to climb Mt. Everest. Now the time has come for the weather to be favorable for spring climbing. This season’s climbing is over, except for Mount Everest and Lhotse. About 200 climbers are now waiting for the favorable weather to climb these two mountains.
Let’s make Mount Everest valuable
More than 1300 mountains that can be climbed in Nepal can be made a source of income through tourism activities. Most of the tourists coming to Nepal are connected to the mountains and the business in the mountains is expensive, so we are earning good income and other income from it. As mountain tourism is associated with many sectors including farmers, laborers, hotels, the income from it is also distributed to many. Income from Nepal’s mountains should be interpreted in two ways. One is to increase the importance of some of the main mountains by conserving them very much. Within these mountains, Mount Everest comes mainly. The issue I have always raised is that if Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world and the most important asset in the world, it should be made the most expensive. According to the head of the mountaineering branch of the tourism department, I am raising this issue.
The more expensive it is, the more important it becomes. Expensive means not only in money but in all respects it should be made valuable. I am telling the government, my branch, the department. More efforts are needed to enhance the dignity of Mount Everest. Activities on Mount Everest should not be readily available, but special arrangements should be made. Mount Everest should show that the country has given it a lot of priority. The second thing is that some mountains can be made commercial. Apart from the main mountains, the mountains can be opened for additional activities including paragliding and skiing. Since many tourists can be brought to the mountains, it is possible to make business by exploring the potential in the mountains other than the main ones.
Climb into the epidemic
This year, the Nepali government has allowed climbing of mountains, including Mount Everest, amid global epidemics. Due to legal grounds and government decisions, we issued the permit. We also had an obligation. But since the permit was issued, we have faced more and different challenges than in previous years. In terms of tourist safety, only the risk of weather has been high in the previous years, so this year, the risk of corona infection is high, so it is our duty to complete the ascent of the climbers who have come to Nepal and return them safely to their country.
On the one hand, there is the risk of infection, and on the other hand, the ban has created a similar problem in transportation. There were problems due to the epidemic to bring the climbers who had completed the ascent or were about to leave in the middle to return to their homeland safely. However, work is being done to return them to Kathmandu in coordination with all and initiatives are being taken to bring them back to their country. Some passengers are returning from a chartered plane. We are facilitating the businessmen, departments and ministries to send the remaining ones even if it is a day or two late.
Tourists may not have to face many problems in this regard. News of the spread of corona on Mount Everest became worldwide. After reaching the base camp, Kathmandu or some of those who fell down for adaptation may have seen the infection. No official information has been received. But the situation is not complicated by the spread of corona in the base camp. Due to the cold, the problems seen in the base camp every year and the symptoms of corona are similar, so it may be suspected. But due to Corona, there is no problem of rescue from the base camp. The base camp does not have a corona testing laboratory and is not easy to set up. So far no complications have been reported due to Corona.
There was an epidemic. In the meantime, it is allowed to climb. In addition, two cyclones were affected this year. After the ascent of Mt. Everest began, Tau-te and Yas were affected by the cyclone. Due to this, we had to move on to possible climbs.
Mountains are also dangerous places, so the general effect of the weather can cause problems, so great care must be taken. We have to work in time for salvation. Entrepreneurs and the department are taking initiative for this. Even now, the weather in Everest is not favorable. About two hundred climbers are waiting for the right time. We wish the weather to be favorable. We always pray that the weather will be clear during the ascent. We are still praying the same thing.
Unwanted activity in the mountains
There have also been discussions of flying drones in the mountains without permission and other activities without permission. Even though some things have been done with permission, there have been reports of any new type of activity without the permission of the government. Since the mountain is our pride, we think that we should be more serious in checking its authenticity when bringing out the controversial issues with it. Illegal activities should be investigated. But the person who did it wrong should be prosecuted. It is being tried. The entire sector should not be blamed.
There is also talk of fake climbing. It has been certified by the liaison officer, guide and the concerned agency. It is believed that no one lies in things like mountaineering. But some are lying. Action is also being taken against such people. GPS tracking is also being discussed. But there is also a risk that GPS devices will carry each other. In the same way, the current fraudulent incidents and the cost of technology are also taken into account. Along with the reliability of the technology, the person concerned may also have a legal issue. The decision will be made after analyzing everything. In any case, there will be an effort to make the ascent systematic.
The mountains are our pride. There is pride. We must all take the initiative to preserve it with dignity. The highest assets should be made valuable, not cheap. More tourists can be brought by making the potential mountains even commercial. But Mount Everest must be valuable.