If you’ve dreamed about scaling Mount Everest solo, it’s time to expect some company as the Nepal government has banned foreign climbers from taking on the challenge solo.
The new mountaineering regulations will be in place for the spring 2018 season and require all climbers to be accompanied by Nepali guides or climbers. As well as creating more jobs for locals, it will help ensure the safety of climbers.
As the popularity of climbing the peak increases, so have accidents and fatalities. There were seven fatalities on Mount Everest in 2017, two of which were solo climbers.
“The mountaineering regulation has been amended to improve safety of the climbers and has delegated more power to the Department of Tourism to function independently,” said Tourism Secretary Maheswor Neupane in the Kathmandu Post. “It has also ensured the rights of high-altitude Nepali guides and climbers.”
Solo climbers are not the only people affected by the new regulations. The new rules also ban some climbers with physical disabilities from scaling the mountain unless they have a medical certificate. The new regulations will affect climbers who are blind or who have amputated a limb, despite the fact they have a better safety record.
Former soldier Hari Budha Magar – who lost both his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan – has been training for the past 18 months to scale the peak of Mount Everest. He will travel shortly to Kathmandu to try and obtain a licence to climb the mountain but has denounced the legislation as discriminatory. In a Facebook post, he said “the Nepal government should encourage disabled people to come out of their comfort zone, explore themselves and reach their maximum potential, not banning them from doing things which discourages us.”
The authorities governing Mount Everest have made huge strides in safety in recent years as more and more people flock to the highest mountain on earth. Two base camps are now free Wi-Fi zones to aid communication and there’s also an online emergency medical service for trekkers.
Both the trek to Mount Everest base camp and any attempt at scaling the mountain remain an important source of revenue for Nepal, which is still recovering from a devastating earthquake in April 2015.