Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Nepal's Climbing Sherpas Are Finally Getting Their Summit Certificates

Amidst all of the controversy surrounding the new climbing regulations passed by the Nepali Council of Ministers late last year, there was one bright spot. Those new rules indicated that the climbing Sherpas who accompanied their clients to the summit of Everest or other major peaks, would at long last get climbing certificates that would make their accomplishments official. Now, the Department of Tourism, which oversees climbing operations, is starting to make good on that promise.

According to The Himalayan Times, more than 500 Nepali mountain guides who successfully reached the summit of a climbing mountain (as opposed to a trekking mountain) over the past two years can now apply to receive their certificates. Since 2015, the government had been refusing to issue such certificates citing a clause in the mountaineering regulations. That clause has now been removed, clearing the way to start issuing the official documents once again.

Prior to 2015, all Sherpa guides received summit certificates just like their foreign clients. But, for some reason the Nepali government changed the rules that year, and there haven't been any certificates issued since then. As you can imagine, this was a source of irritation for the Sherpas, who are instrumental in almost all mountaineering operations in the Himalaya. The failure to prove the documents soon became a source of contention between the ruling ministers and the guides, which was thankfully addressed in these new regulations.

The new rules will impact Sirdars (head Sherpa guides), mountain guides, and high-altitude workers, who reach the summit of the mountains that they are climbing, including Everest. Earning such a certificate has always been a tremendous source of pride for the Sherpas who are the backbone of most expeditions. Now, they'll finally be getting their proper credit once again.

I don't agree with most of the new regulations that Nepal put into place, but I'm happy to see this one was included in the changes. The summit certificates are much deserved. I don't say it often, but well done Nepal.

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