Everest Officials Flag Rule Changes After Traffic Jam Deaths
Mountaineers have labelled Mount Everest "carnage" and "chaos", likening the atmosphere to that of "a zoo". Now government officials are taking action.
At least 11 people have been killed while attempting to stand atop the world's highest peak this season, making it one of the deadliest on record.
The fatal traffic jams have been blamed on the increasing number of rookies taking up the challenge.
In Nepal, there are little to no permit restrictions, with just about anybody able to get their hands on one, as long as they can fork out AU$15,000.
This year, a record 381 people in 44 teams were issued a permit.
Nepalese officials have been under increasing pressure to make changes to keep climbers safe and the mountain sacred, and it appears they've listened.
“It’s time to review all the old laws,” Yagya Raj Sunuwar, a member of Parliament, told The New York Times.
Several officials in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, are investigating why this season was carnage and are considering new rules that would require all climbers to submit proof of mountaineering experience and a verifiable certificate of good health before attaining a permit.
Currently, those wanting to ascend only need to hand over a copy of their passport, some biographical data and a certificate confirming they are healthy enough for the expedition, but there is no way for officials to verify the fitness check.
“Certainly there will be some change in the expedition sector,” Mira Acharya, a senior official with Nepal’s tourism department, told the Times. “We are discussing reforming some issues, including setting criteria for every Everest hopeful.’’
Kul Bahadur Gurung, general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association admitted there were "more people on Everest than there should be".
“We lack the rules and regulations that say how many people can actually go up and when,” he told news agency AP.
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While China also runs expeditions to the top, there were 300 climbers and two deaths this season, compared to 800 climbers and nine deaths on the Nepal side.
Some fell ill and died after a lack of oxygen as they waited for hours in the queue just to get to the top.
The season is due to finish this week.