Everest: Nepal losing out to China

Foreign operators, citing lax attitude to safety, are shifting to the north side

February 02, 2018 01:07 am | Updated 01:07 am IST - Kathmandu

Lofty goal:  The Everest range seen from Tengboche, 300 km north-east of Kathmandu.

Lofty goal: The Everest range seen from Tengboche, 300 km north-east of Kathmandu.

Poor regulation and overcrowding are pushing Everest climbers away from Nepal to China, which is investing millions to boost a rival path to the top of the world.

Veteran climbing outfits, fed up with what they regard as a lax attitude to safety on Nepal’s southern flank of the 8,848 metre peak, are starting to shift operations to Everest’s north side in Tibet.

“The south side is way too overcrowded with inexperienced people,” Phil Crampton, a seasoned Everest hand who announced in January that his company Altitude Junkies would shift to China, the third such outfit to abandon Nepal in recent years.

The exodus could dent a long-standing source of revenue for the cash-strapped Himalayan nation — Kathmandu raked in more than $4 million in Everest permits fees alone in 2017.

A growing chorus of foreign-led Everest operators in Nepal are demanding greater scrutiny of low-cost outfits that have mushroomed in recent years, offering cheap expeditions up the fabled summit.

These budget players are luring hordes of amateur climbers chasing the thrill of Everest but also risking death and injury, climbing experts say, warning that some expedition leaders are ill-equipped to tackle the peak. Those pushing for change want to see permit numbers curbed and greater oversight of guides and operators.

“What has happened over the last few years on the south side is absolutely intolerable,” said Lukas Furtenbach, whose company Furtenbach Adventures relocated to China last year citing safety concerns.

Nepal introduced new laws in late December barring solo climbers, blind mountaineers and double amputees from scaling Everest, restrictions it said would make the peak safer.

But many mountaineers say the rules miss the mark.

“Nepal needs mountaineering rules and regulations. But for the operators, not for the climbers,” said Mr. Furtenbach.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.