In December 2017, Nepal banned solo climbers from climbing its mountains, including the Mt. Everest, in an effort to reduce alpine-related accidents. The newly updated safety regulations also barred blind climbers and double amputees from scaling the summit of the earth’s highest peak sans a legitimate medical certificate.
The cabinet endorsed the revision on mountaineering regulations prior to the 2018 spring climbing season. Nepal Mountaineering Association’s official, Santa Bir Lama said: “The mountains in Nepal are unique, and it’s always better for climbers to go with guides. This is good for their own safety.”
Renowned righty as the Himalayan Nation, Nepal is home to eight of the world’s ten tallest peaks, including the majestic Everest. Climbers from all around the globe flock to Nepal and spend tens of thousands of dollars to climb the awe-inspiring Nepalese mountains.
In 2017, Everest saw a record number of mountaineers as almost 450 climbers reached the summit. 259 Nepalese and 190 foreigners scaled the mountain from the south side in Nepal. However, among the enthusiastic number of climbers, there was also a familiar count of casualties. The death tally stands at 6.
85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherachan lost his life trying to reclaim his title as the world’s oldest person to climb Mt. Everest. World-famous Swiss climber UeliSteck, known as the “Swiss Machine”, also died during a solo climb to a Nuptse during an acclimatization run for Lhotse Traverse.
Under the new amendments, foreign climbers will have to be accompanied by a guide, irrespective of their experience level. It is likely to anger veteran solo mountaineers who climb for the challenges of travelling alone, and who put the blame on a huge influx of commercial expeditions for creating possibly terminal tailbacks at the vicinity of the world’s tallest peak.
Similarly, the government’s verdict to ban double amputees and blind climbers were also met by criticism. But, the officials were quick to clarify that only those without medical dispensation are prohibited.
New Zealand’s Mark Inglis, who lost his legs to frostbite, became the first successful double amputee to climb Everest in 2006. In 2001, America’s Erik Weihenmayer became the first and only visually-impaired person to scale Everest. He also went on to become the only blind person to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents.
Aspiring Everest climber Hari Budha Magar, a former Gurkha soldier who lost both legs during deployment in Afghanistan, criticized the decision saying it was an “injustice” and “discriminatory”. Magar wrote on Facebook: “I will be climbing Mt. Everest whatever the cabinet decides. Nothing Is Impossible. If I need to go to court, I will.”
Over 200 people have died on Everest since 1920, with the most number of deaths taking place since 1980. The mountaineers lose their life on Everest for several reasons – with avalanches killing the highest number of people at 29%, followed by falls at 23% and acute mountain sickness at 20% — according to the Himalayan Database.