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Tourism Department set new rules for climbers

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Kathmandu: According to the rules set by the Tourism Department, all climbers seeking permission to climb Mount Everest will now have to disclose their complete medical history.

In addition to revealing their medical history, climbers must submit a medical report by a certified doctor seeking permission to climb the mountains in Nepal, as well as the tallest peak in the world.

Once approved by the climbing season next spring, the rules that came into force this year after the death of mountaineer Mount Everest were drafted in an effort to determine that only climbers in good health attempt the high-altitude challenge. Nine people died on Everest this year, the highest in the single season in the last four years.

According to the Department of Tourism, at least a dozen new rules are expected to be included in the amendments to existing mountaineering regulation.

Director at the Department of Tourism, Ms. Mira Acharya said-“As most deaths occurred due to fitness and health issues, we [the government] have come up with these strict measures. The draft of the new rules was submitted to the Tourism Ministry last week.”

After the Tourism Ministry approves the rules, they will be forwarded to the Cabinet for ratification.

Department officials said that the medical history declaration rule will allow them to determine whether a climber is fit enough to climb mountains.

On December 28, 2017, the Cabinet’s Bill Committee had approved a revision to the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation to bar double amputees and blind persons proposed by the Department of Tourism to prevent high-altitude accidents. But in March 2018, the Supreme Court reserved the government’s ban, saying it was discriminatory.

All climbers will also require mandatory insurance, according to the new rules.

Acharya said-“It’s search, rescue and treatment insurance, which will allow rescues and prompt treatment if the mountaineer is ill or stuck at high altitude. The insurance will also partly cover the retrieval of the body in case of death.”

According to the rescue operators depending on the location and situation, retrieving a body above the death zone, which is above 8,000 meters, can cost around $200,000 and costs to rescue people below the death zone ranges from $20,000 to $60,000, according to rescue operators, depending on the location and situation.

According to officials of the department, insurance coverage has been made mandatory as adventurers have been found climbing mountains with just a life insurance policy. Currently, insurance is only compulsory for climbing guides and high-altitude workers.

According to officials, a Indian Climber, Kalpana Das, who reached the summit on May 23 this year and died while descending. Das was not physically fit to climb Everest right from the beginning. It also came to light that she had no other insurance coverage except her life insurance policy.

Department official said that the government panel set up to recommend measures to make climbing safer, after the May disaster on Everest, has yet to recommend an upper age limit as that could also be discriminatory and land in court. Rules on the mobilization of a liaison officer will also change. According to the initial draft, the government will not send individual liaison officers. Instead, a group comprising a doctor, army and police personnel, and government officials will be mobilized on the mountain. But this provision will not be implemented in the next spring climbing season, as a separate guideline will have to be prepared.

According to department officials, in the wake of May’s deaths and a photo that went viral across the world, many international observers had also suggested that Nepal limit the number of permits issued or raise the permit fees. The government has decided to form a separate committee to determine a new fee to climb Everest.

The department official said, “Our objective is to manage and conserve the mountains as well as making mountain tourism commercial.”

Government officials said they have not taken a policy to restrict the number of climbers to the world’s tallest summit, mainly due to the Nepal Tourism Campaign 2020, which aims to bring in 2 million visitors next year.

According to the department, 223 mountaineers climbed Mount Everest on May 22 and set a new record for the highest climb in the world on the same day.

 Source: TKP