Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Nepal's Everest Ban for Double Amputees Challenged in Supreme Court

Remember all of the new regulations that Nepal put in place a few months back? The provisions included good things like ensuring Sherpas get their summit certificates, but it also banned solo climbs on Everest and prevented double amputees from making the attempt as well. That hasn't set well with some climbers, and now the ban on amputees is actually being challenged in the country's Supreme Court.

A petition was submitted to the court last week by Madhav Prasad Chamlagain, a lawyer who has represented persons with disabilities in the past as well. He seeks to have a specific sub-clause of the new regulations removed, most notably the one that bans blind climbers and double amputees. Chamlagain argues that the court should intervened on this issue immediately on the grounds that it is a violation of human rights granted by Nepal's constitution, as well as the United Nations conventions on the rights of people with disabilities.

According to the Himalayan Times story linked to above, the case will be heard in court tomorrow, with a possible ruling to follow quickly. That could mean that a decision will be rendered before the start of the 2018 spring climbing season, allowing disabled climbers to still join any planned expeditions that could take place this year. Among them could be Hard Budha Magar, who was training for just such a climb this past fall on Mera Peak.

The feeling amongst most in the mountaineering community is that a ban on disabled climbers is too sweeping, and that individuals who have proven their abilities should still be allowed to climb the mountain. The fatality rate amongst disabled climbers on Everest is next to nothing, usually because they have a good support team around them. This provision was passed under the guise of making things safer, but considering the overwhelming number of deaths that occur on the mountain are for able-bodied climbers, this rule doesn't seem to make Everest safer for anyone.

Hopefully we'll get a swift ruling on this and those who want to climb Everest will still be given a chance. It should be interesting to see how this plays out in the days ahead.

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