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Aug 142019
 
Everest as seen from Pumori Camp 2

Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism announced proposed changes for guiding and climbing Everest at a press conference held in Kathmandu today, August 14, 2019. They still must be approved by the Parliament before going into effect according to ChannelNewsAsia‘s website but are targeted for the 2020 spring season.

 

Highlights from the 59 page report included:

  • Expedition companies must have a minimum of three years experience organizing high altitude climbs
    before guiding on Everest.
  • Climbers will have to submit proof of summiting at least one 6,500 meter peak.
  • Guide companies must charge a minimum of $35,000 per client. (My understanding is that this includes the current $11,000 permit fee.)

They also reiterated the current rules around have a valid health certificate and requiring the hiring of a “trained Nepali guide”. Vague language was included in the report, for example “Climbers to Sagarmatha and other 8,000 metre mountains must undergo basic and high altitude climbing training.”

Other areas addressed in the report but with little details included improvements in the rope fixing process, primarily with respect to getting the ropes in earlier and some type of improved weather forecasting system. Both of these points were highlighted during the spring 2019 season as reason for the traffic jams by the government.

The New York Times provide this quote:

“Everest cannot be climbed just based on one’s wishes,” Yogesh Bhattarai, the tourism minister, said at a news conference. “We are testing their health conditions and climbing skills before issuing climbing permits.”

Impact

The new price floor of $35,000 will likely not deter inexperienced aspirants like doubling or tripling the permit fee would have. This seems to have been a move to calm the local operators who feared a permit increase would hurt business. The median price Nepali operators charged in the spring 2019 was around $40,000 according to my polling but deep discounts regularly took the price under $30,000 and some even lower.

While a step in the right direction, the two major rules can be easily bypassed and lack teeth.

The requirement of 3 year experience guiding at “high altitude” – any Sherpa can claim to have done that – so not much of a requirement. This falls short of actually requiring “guides” to be qualified as in receiving training from a legitimate organization like the Khumbu Climbing Center or being certified by the Nepal Mountain Guide Association with UIAGM/IFMGA credentials.

“Proof” of summiting an 6500m+ peak? Well, the Indians have shown they can forge Everest summits so having a summit certificate for a 6500m peak will not be a problem. Also, they will probably delegate it to the guides who have a vested interest in signing clients. I had hoped Nepal would require a summit of an 8000-meter peak like China does before climbing on the Tibet side and have an independent agency review all applications.

High Peaks

Most long time reputable guide companies like to see Everest applicants with successful summits of Aconcagua (6962m) and Denali (6168m). The best in class require a summit of an 8000m peak like Manaslu or Cho Oyu. These are some of the more popular peaks above 6500 meters:

  • Muztagh Ata, China – 7546
  • Baruntse, Nepal – 7162
  • Lenin Peak, Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan – 7134
  • Aconcagua, Argentina – 6962
  • Ojos del Salado, Chile – 6891
  • Ama Dablam, Nepal  – 6856
  • Huascarán Sur, Peru – 6768

Popular peaks that wouldn’t apply include:

  • Mera Peak, Nepal – 6476
  • Illimani, Bolivia – 6438
  • Cholatse, Nepal – 6440
  • Chimborazo, Ecuador – 6267
  • Imja Tse aka Island Peak, Nepal – 6189
  • Denali, US – 6168
  • Lobuche Nepal – 6119
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanania – 5895
  • Elbrus, Russia 5642
  • Orizaba, Mexico – 5636
  • Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico – 5230
  • Mont Blanc, France/Italy – 4810
  • Rainier, US – 4392

Nepal has 52 peaks between 6500 and 8000 meters but the majority are serious, technical climbs and not so called “trekking” peaks. Some are sub peaks of the 8000 meter giants.

Gyachung Kang 7,952 26,089 Khumbu Mahalangur between Everest and Cho Oyu
Annapurna II 7,937 26,040 Annapurna
Himalchuli 7,893 25,896 Mansiri 18th highest
Ngadi Chuli 7,871 25,823 Mansiri First ascent 1970
Nuptse 7,861 25,791 Everest Group 319 metres prominence from Lhotse
Dhaulagiri II 7,751 25,430 Dhaulagiri
Jannu 7,711 25,299 Kumbhakarna Kangchenjunga
Dhaulagiri IV 7,661 25,135 Dhaulagiri
Dhaulagiri V 7,618 24,993 Dhaulagiri
Annapurna III 7,555 24,787 Annapurna
Jongsong Peak 7,462 24,482 Janak #57 in the world
Gangapurna 7,455 24,459 Annapurna
Yangra 7,422 24,350 Ganesh
Kabru 7,412 24,318 Singalila Kangchenjunga
Churen Himal 7,385 24,229 Dhaulagiri
Kirat Chuli 7,365 24,163 Kangchenjunga
Nangpai Gosum 7,350 24,114 Khumbu Mahalangur First ascent October 12, 1986.
Gimmigela Chuli 7,350 24,114 First ascent 1995
Chamlang 7,321 24,019 Barun Mahalangur #79 in the world
Dhaulagiri VI 7,268 23,845 Dhaulagiri
Putha Hiunchuli 7,246 23,773 Dhaulagiri
Langtang Lirung 7,227 23,711 Langtang #99 in the world
Annapurna Dakshin 7,219 23,684 Annapurna
Langtang Ri 7,205 23,638 Langtang #106 in the world
Chamar 7,187 23,579 Sringi First ascent 1953
Melungtse 7,181 23,560 Rolwaling First ascent 1988
Pumori 7,161 23,494 Khumbu Mahalangur First ascent 1962
Nemjung Manang 7,140 23,425 First ascent 1983
Gaurishankar 7,134 23,406 Rolwaling First ascent 1979
Tilicho Peak 7,134 23,406 Annapurna First ascent 1979
Api 7,132 23,399 Yoka Pahar Gurans First ascent 1960
Baruntse 7,129 23,389 Barun Mahalangur First ascent 1954
Nilgiri 7,061 23,166 Nilgiri Annapurna First ascent 1962
Saipal 7,031 23,068 Saipal Gurans
Machapuchare 6,993 22,943 Annapurna Sacred mountain, unclimbed
Kang Guru 6,981 22,904 Larkya or Peri 2005 avalanche kills 18
Dorje Lakpa 6,966 22,854 Langtang
Kanjiroba 6,883 22,582 Kanjiroba Himal
Kubi Gangri 6,859 22,503 Himalayas
Jethi Bahurani 6,850 22,474 Himalayas
Ama Dablam 6,812 22,349 Barun Mahalangur “Mother and her necklace”
Kangtega 6,782 22,251 Barun Mahalangur First ascent 1963
Cho Polu 6,735 22,096 Barun Mahalangur First ascent 1999
Changla 6,721 22,051 Himalayas
Lingtren 6,714 22,028 Khumbu Mahalangur First ascent 1935
Num Ri 6,677 21,906 Barun Mahalangur First ascent 2002
Khumbutse 6,640 21,785 Khumbu Mahalangur First mountain west of Everest
Thamserku 6,623 21,729 Barun Mahalangur First ascent 1964
Pangboche 6,620 21,719 Kutang Himal
Dragmarpo Ri 6,578 21,581 Langtang Unclimbed
Taboche 6,542 21,463 Khumbu Mahalangur First ascent 1974
Singu Chuli 6,501 21,329 Annapurna Trekking peak

We will see if this make any difference. It will all come down to enforcement and thus far the Nepal government, and guides, have not shown they can do that.

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

  5 Responses to “New Everest Climber and Guide Requirements”

  1.  

    I’m guessing that Singu Chuli is about to become very very popular!

  2.  

    Hi Alan,

    Did you manage to get hold of the 59 page report? I would be interested in reading the whole thing. Neither the CNA nor NYT articles contain links to it.

    I agree with you that the 6500m requirement should be 8000m. There should also be a proper, fully assessed certification and licensing scheme for operators, instead of some arbitrary 3 year rule for experience. Am I right in thinking there is also no mention of limiting the number of permits, which is badly needed?

    But perhaps more to the point, do you think any of this will happen, or is this just another silly announcement that won’t be enforced? 😉

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