Monday, November 24, 2014

Nepal Backtracks on Everest Permits, 2014 Climbers No Longer Need to Return as a Group

What a difference a week can make. Last Monday I posted a story about how Nepal was honoring the cancelled permits from the 2014 Everest climbing season, but had put a stipulation on their use that would cause many to be unable to climb on the permit that they actually paid for. But now, the Himalaya country has backtracked on those restrictions and is providing better opportunities for the climbers who saw their dreams of scaling Everest dashed this past spring.

As I'm sure most of you know by now, the spring climbing season on Everest was cancelled following a massive avalanche that left 16 Sherpas dead. It was the worst accident in the history of the tallest mountain on the planet, and the aftermath left many of the men and women who work on the mountain angry, confused, and demanding better compensation. At the time, the Nepali government made the decision to close things down, while they looked for ways to defuse the situation. That decision sent hundreds of foreign climbers home, unsure of their future on Everest.

Eventually Nepal's Ministry of Tourism announced that it would honor the climbing permits for five years, giving most of the mountaineers an opportunity to return to Everest, and attempt to climb the mountain once again. But the preliminary announcement indicated that all the climbers listed on a permit would need to return together in order to take advantage of this plan. Those that were unable to come back with their teammates would see their opportunity forfeit, and would have to pay for another permit on future attempts. This meant that if a single member of a team went back to Everest, and used his or her 2014 permit, all the other climbers listed on that document would no longer be able to use that permit themselves.

This was of course a confounding stipulation, as it would be almost impossible for a full team to reassemble to try Everest once again. Fortunately, someone in Nepal saw this as a problem, and was successful in changing the rules. Now, any climber who was on a cancelled permit from the spring 2014 climbing season can use that permit at any time over the course of the next five year. They no longer have to return with their previous team, and they can sign on to any expedition they choose.

I applaud the Nepali government for making this change to the regulations that will give climbers on 2014 permits more freedom to choose when they'll return. This is how the system should have worked in the first place of course, but it is good to see that someone saw the injustice in the previous plan, and made a move to adjust it. Hopefully now, more climbers will have an opportunity to go back to Everest over the next five years, and attempt to climb the mountain.

The spring 2015 season is still months away of course, and yet we continue to find plenty of things to talk about in regards to Everest. I have a feeling the run up to the start of the next climbing season is going to be an interesting one.

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