Have you ever imagined renting the peaks of the Himalayas? Nepal is thinking to lease some peaks to private companies. In March 2014, Nepal also mooted other ideas to make Mount Everest a clean and safe place for mountaineers from different parts of the world: ban on solo climbs, new waste disposal rule, installation of a ladder near Hillary Step, and separate ropes for both ascending and descending mountaineers.
Ban on Solo Climbs
Nepal may ban solo Everest (8,850 meters / 20,035 feet) expeditions by foreign mountaineers, because the authorities feel that the ban would minimize accidents, involving the solo climbers. In upcoming climbing and trekking season, company of a local guide may therefore be mandatory for all foreign mountaineers and trekkers. This new rule also covers other peaks in the country. The ban would increase safety and security of the foreign travelers and create employment opportunities for locals.
Separate Ropes for Mountaineers Going Up and Coming Down
Since Nepal anticipates a busy Everest climbing season in May 2014, the government plans to fix separate ropes on different slopes near the summit for descending and ascending mountaineers. These ropes may help in reducing snarl-ups at the Hillary Step, the 40-foot almost vertical rock-face before the summit, where traffic jam was observed in 2013. The Nepali government is also thinking of installing a ladder in the Hillary Step area to reduce the congestion.
The officials have also noticed that the climbers consume most of the oxygen supply before reaching the “death zone,” the area above the South Col (26,240 feet) where extreme conditions make rescue almost impossible and enough oxygen supply is a necessity. For want of oxygen, the mountaineers awaiting their turns to descend from the summit die.
Bring Back Trash from Everest
Nepal also introduced a new rule to clean Everest, which is called the highest garbage dump in the world, because by the time climbers reach the summit they are fully spent. They therefore dump all the rubbish at the summit and / or along the trail while descending. This decades’ old unethical practice led to accumulation of about tons of garbage on the mountain. However, there is no way to assess exact amount of the garbage piled up on Everest.
According to the new rule, each climber must bring back eight kilograms of the trash from the peak. If mountaineers do not bring back the said amount of the trash, they may forfeit the garbage deposit worth US$ 4,000. Or non-compliance of the garbage rule may also lead to legal proceedings. The deposit forfeit clause is an old rule that was probably never implemented. The violation may also lead to life time ban on the mountaineers.
However, the new rule states that the climbers should bring back all things they carried with them. The rule does not state that they should collect and ferry the trash left by other climbers. As per the new rule, the officials at the base camp would check whether mountaineers brought back all items they carried up. The new rule is made to ensure that this garbage pile should not increase further.
Leasing Peaks to Private Travel Companies
Nepal also thought to lease out peaks of the Himalayas to private local and foreign tourism companies to reduce the traffic on Mount Everest and promote unclimbed peaks. The proposal includes some of the 326 peaks currently open for mountaineering.
The companies would be authorized to collect royalty and manage the leased peaks for three decades. They would “sell” the peaks as new products to adventure tourists. This diversification may draw tourists to other parts of the mountainous country. It seems to be an innovative business opportunity, but I think administration and security would be at stake.