Monday, February 08, 2016

Nepali Government Slow to Honor Everest Climbing Permits From 2015

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The Nepali government is once again dragging its feet on a decision to honor the cancelled climbing permits for Everest – and other peaks – from the 2015 season. As you'll no doubt recall, all expeditions were cancelled following the massive earthquake that took place there last April, leaving many mountaineers who were in the Himalaya to wonder what would happen next. After all, many of them spent upwards of $50,000 only to see their opportunity to reach the summit dashed by the natural disaster that devastated the country.

I'm sure as most of the climbers departed the mountains last spring went away thinking that their climbing permits would be honored at some point in the future. The precedent was set following the cancelled 2014 season on Everest after 19 porters were killed in an avalanche. Following those events, the Nepali government eventually announced that the climbing permits purchased for Everest and Lhotse that year would be honored for returning climbers for three additional years.

As you probably know, those permits are not cheap, and many mountaineers simply wanted reassurance that their investment was safe and the they would have another chance to climb Everest again. Last year, government officials took a very long time to make that decision, but eventually they came around and announced their plans to honor the permits. This year – to quote the great Yogi Berra – it's deja vu all over again.

Expedition leaders planning trips to Everest this season are already nervous about the decision, as they report climbers are waiting to see what will happen, and some have already started to cancel their plans. With the start of the season now about six weeks away, it is getting difficult to organize logistics and make travel plans. With no guarantees in place, some climbers are definitely taking a wait and see approach.

Personally, just like last year, I think the Nepali government will come around and make the right choice. They took their time then too, but eventually decided to honor the permits and allow climbers who lost the chance to climb Everest through no fault of their own, the chance to come back and give it another go. That will happen again here, it is just taking far longer than anyone would like.

We're already hearing that Everest is going to be unusually quiet this year because of the events of the last few seasons. But it is slow decision making from the Nepali government that leaves many wondering if it is worth it to even climb there at all. To them I would say be patient, wait for the glacially paced red-tape to be cleared, and have faith. I know at times it doesn't seem like it, but the right thing will be done eventually.

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