KATHMANDU, Nepal- With the government working on formulation of new rules that will guide the mountaineers and operating teams on Mt. Everest missions manage their expeditions, mountaineering experts and stakeholders are aware of the question, will the new rules work to help protect beauty of the world’s highest peak amidst its fame?
Since Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the peak for the first time in May 29, 1953, nearly five thousand have reached the top of the world. And in the race of Everest ascent many have breached the expedition rules while others neglected the climbing ethics resulting malpractices, unfair competition, brawl and so on.
According to the government plans, a team of government officials will be set up at the Everest base camp, including security officials and doctors. The insurance for support staff, Nepalis, mostly Sherpas, who help the climbers at the base camps, will also be doubled.
The 10-membered team will ensure that climbers do not leave trash on the mountain.
“Everest has already earned notoriety as the world’s highest dumping site so we want to make sure each expedition follows the government guideline and does not leave trash,” Purna Chandra Bhattarai, chief of the tourism industry division at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has said during an informal conversation.
Late last year, a group of artists staged an exhibition of sculpture made from tonnes of trash collected on Mount Everest, highlighting the toll that decades of mountaineering have taken. Discarded oxygen and cooking gas cylinders, ropes, tents, glasses, beer cans, plastic and even the remains of a helicopter made up 75 artworks commissioned for the “Everest 8848 Art Project” displayed in Kathmandu.
In the views of mountaineering experts the government team stationed at the base camp will help to relay the exact news on any incident. “The biased information provided by either side in the dispute nurture negative feeling among the receivers,” they said adding the government move will check them.
Mentioning about the recent incident of brawl near base camp, Ang Tsering Sherpa, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, said that the media then had only covered “their” [the European] version of the story.
Early in this year’s climbing season, three European climbers exchanged blows with a group of Nepali Sherpa guides after a dispute over climbing rights on Everest.
However, the brawl was not the only incident that irked tourism authorities here last climbing season. On May 19, the British climber Daniel Hughes made a video call, using his smart phone, from the peak of the Everest to the BBC’s studio in London. The government immediately declared the video call “illegal” for broadcasting from Everest without a permit, and summoned the expedition head to be questioned. The government committee formed to investigate the incident is said to be preparing legal action against Hughes.
This year Nepal marked the Diamond Jubilee anniversary of the maiden climb by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. But the celebrations were shadowed by the brawl and unauthorized video call events that raised some uncomfortable questions about the dynamics between the tourist climbers, and the Nepali workers, in addition to the need of tough rule.
Tourism minister Ram Prasad Shrestha in his every speech during the month-long anniversary event had mentioned about the revision and enforcement of new rules for Everest climbers.
The ministry has also said that it want to make sure that an incidents like those occurred this season will not be repeated in the future.
Nepal has already made it mandatory for each expedition team to hire liaison officers from the ministry to ensure better relations with locals. The government also wants to identify new peaks to open for climbing, to add to the 326 already open, and reduce pollution at Everest and other peaks.