Climbers wanting to tackle Everest must be properly trained, panel says after deaths

Nepalese government panel issued guidance after deadliest climbing season in four years

In this photo made on May 22, 2019, a long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest. About half a dozen climbers died on Everest last week most while descending from the congested summit during only a few windows of good weather each May. (Nimsdai Project Possible via AP)
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Nepal must make training and experience in high-altitude climbing mandatory for all climbers on Mount Everest and other high peaks, a government panel said on Wednesday.

Eleven climbers were killed or went missing on the 8,850-metre mountain in May. Nine lost their lives on the Nepali side and two on the Tibetan face.

The Nepalese panel of government officials, climbing experts and agencies representing the mountaineering community was set up after climbers and guides criticised officials for allowing anyone who paid $11,000 (Dh40,400) to climb the mountain.

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains and climbing is a key source of employment and income for the cash-strapped nation.

But the numbers trying the climb in May led to crowding in the so-called death zone, where there are very low oxygen levels.

That put lives at risk as oxygen cylinders ran out while up to 100 people waited in queues for the summit.

Nepal issued 381 permits for Everest in this year's climbing season, which tends to end in May when the daylight and weather are the most forgiving.

"Climbers to Sagarmatha [Everest] and other 8,000-metre mountains must undergo basic and high-altitude climbing training," the panel said in a report submitted to the government.

The report said those hoping to scale Everest must climb at least one other Nepali peak taller than 6,500 metres before getting a permit.

Climbers must also submit a certificate of good health and physical fitness, and be accompanied by a trained Nepali guide.

Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, a senior Tourism Ministry official, said the recommendations would be implemented.

"The government will now make the required changes in laws and regulations guiding mountain climbing," Mr Upadhyaya said.

"Climbers died due to altitude sickness, heart attack, exhaustion or weaknesses and not due to traffic jams," said Mira Acharya, a member of the panel.

Ms Acharya said the compulsory provision of guides for each climber was to discourage solo attempts, which put lives at risk.

A reliable weather forecasting system should be in place and rope fixing should be done in time, giving enough space for the climbers to use a window of good weather to reach the summit, the report said.