Officials in Nepal are proposing new safety measures that could lead to a reduction in the number of climbing permits issued for Everest (8848m), or Sagarmatha as the mountain is known in Nepali. The government demanded an investigation into high altitude safety following the deaths of 11 climbers this latest climbing season, which was one of the deadliest in recent years. Concerns over the management of commercial climbing on the world's highest peak have been deliberated over the past few months since the season's end in June.
Reports of excessive numbers of inexperienced and unprepared climbers becoming seriously ill or dying on Everest due to altitude sickness, and heart attacks prompted guides and experienced mountaineers to call for better regulation of the permit process. Currently, anyone able to pay $11,000 (£9000) can receive a permit without their level of experience being taken into account. A record 381 permits were issued last season.
The new measures ask that climbers must have summitted at least one Nepalese peak of more than 6500 metres in order to receive a permit, in addition to submitting a certificate of good health and fitness and being accompanied by a trained Nepalese guide. The panel also outlined that climbers would have to prove a minimum expedition payment of $35,000 to avoid cost-cutting, and that tourism companies would have to show 3 years' experience of organising high altitude expeditions following problems with irresponsible operations. Health check-ups at Base-Camp have also been mooted by the panel.
The proposed changes will be presented before parliament ahead of next year's Everest season. In 2017, Nepal banned solo climbers from attempting the mountain, in addition to prohibiting ascents by double amputee and blind climbers (UKC news). Ascents of Everest from Tibet in the North are already more strictly regulated.