Last year’s avalanche near the base camp of Mt Everest is not going to affect this year’s mountaineering season in Nepal, says a top tourism boss of the Himalayan nation.
Tulasi Prasad Gautam, Director General of the Department of Tourism, told southasia.com.au today that the loss of 16 lives last year was not due to ‘human error’ or lack of management but purely a tragic accident. “Mountaineering is an adventure and therefore, inherent with risks,’ he said.
The Nepali authorities have taken few steps this year that may encourage mountaineers to go back to the roof of the world. It has slashed permit fee for foreigners and has promised to set up a permanent tent office at the base camp.
The new permit fee for a single foreign climber has been slashed down to US $11,000 from the earlier US $25,000. In the past, climbers used to ascend in groups of seven and pay US $70,000 only.
More importantly, Nepal is trying to allay fears of foreign climbers by setting up a permanent tent office at the base camp. The tent office would have at least two officials from the Department of Tourism and the local police. “The team would be stationed there throughout the year and would have proper communication equipment to relay information,’ Gautam told southasia.com.au. The government staffs at the tent would be on rotation of 15 days to carry out briefing and liaison.
Gautam believes that the climbing of Mt Everest is as safe now as it has always been. Apparently the autumn season (September-November) was not affected at all and the Department of Tourism is already receiving good feedback from the privately-run expedition operators about the upcoming peak season.
The climbing season in Nepal starts around March 15 and continues through to May.
When asked what he wanted to say to mountaineers across the world vis-à-vis last year’s disaster, Gautam claimed his government learnt a lot from the accident and added, “I want to assure them all that it is safe to climb Mt Everest now and experienced guides and management are all ready to go. There will be no problem whatsoever. Everyone is welcome.”
Jinesh Sindurakar of Nepal Mountaineering Association holds a similar view. He said last year’s tragic incident has not affected the market that much. According to him, the reports of a boom in Mt Everest expeditions from the Chinese side is not at all related to last year’s accident in which 16 Sherpa guides lost their lives. “It is all due to their infrastructure facilities, they can drive all the way to the base camp that side,” he pointed out.