World News

Nepal Bans Solo Climbers From Mount Everest

Posted December 30, 2017 6:12 p.m. EST
Updated December 30, 2017 6:18 p.m. EST

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal has barred solo climbers on its mountains, including Mount Everest, in an attempt to promote safety and reduce accidents, an official said Saturday.

“The mountains in Nepal are unique, and it’s always better for climbers to go with guides,” said the official, Santa Bir Lama, who is president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. “This is good for their own safety.”

Nepal, a Himalayan nation between India and China, has eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. Alpinists from all over the world pay tens of thousands of dollars for climbing permits and Sherpa guides.

But some climbers try to summit the country’s mountains on their own. Maheshwor Neupane, secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Culture and Civil Aviation, said the new rules, which were introduced Thursday, require that all climbers, regardless of their experience level, be accompanied by guides.

The prohibition will start soon, he said, and should apply to the spring climbing season.

Climbers with physical disabilities will also be required to obtain health clearance from their doctors before the tourism ministry issues local climbing permits, Neupane added.

Accidents are common on Nepal’s peaks, with avalanches, blizzards and complications from high altitude sickness killing climbers every year.

This year, at least six climbers died during the Mount Everest climbing season, including Ueli Steck, a renowned climber known as the “Swiss Machine” for his speed in ascending imposing peaks; and Min Bahadur Sherchan, 85, who died at base camp before attempting to reclaim his title as the oldest person to summit Mount Everest.

Some climbers, however, said the action was discriminatory.

“This new rule is absolute nonsense,” said Hari Budha Magar, 38, a veteran who lost both his legs in combat in Afghanistan and said he wanted to fulfill his childhood dream of summiting Mount Everest in 2018.

“If I need to go to court, I will,” he said.