Climbing Operator under stress in Nepal

The local government raised environmental and employment issues and stipulated that chaunri, jokpe and porters should be used instead of helicopters to transport goods near the Everest base camp. This puts climbing operators under stress.

After the Department of Tourism started issuing permits to domestic and foreign climbers for mountain climbing in the spring season of this year, there has been a tourist boom in the Everest region. Although there is still some time left for the actual mountain climbing practice to begin, some foreign climbers have already moved to the base camp to prepare themselves for the mountain environment. Physically fit climbers are coming to Nepal for climbing.

Before the climbers reach the base camp of Everest, they have started moving food and basic supplies from Kathmandu for about two months. Helicopters are running back and forth to lower settlements in Everest Base Area to transport goods.

Transporting tent, clothing, oxygen cylinders, cooking utensils, food, drinks and materials required for climbing to the base camp is an important managerial task in the initial stage of climbing. Only after all these items are prepared at the base camp and the route to the summit is prepared for the ascent, the actual ascent begins. The initial phase of work is currently underway in the Everest region.

It is estimated that there will be an enthusiastic participation of climbers this time as those who have been affected by climbing for some years due to the Corona epidemic are coming to Nepal. Since China, which is among the largest number of climbers, has allowed its citizens to travel abroad since this year, climbing stakeholders have estimated that a large number of Chinese climbers, who were previously stopped, will come to Nepal. Even though China has not opened commercial climbing from Tibet, the number of climbers on Everest this year in Nepal has been predicted to be more than last year by the Department of Tourism and the Association of Mountaineering Operators, a joint organization of climbers.

According to the preliminary estimate made by the association, the number of Everest climbers alone will be at least more than 400. Last year, 325 people took permission to climb Mount Everest. The highest number of permits to climb Mount Everest was held in 2021 with 423 people. However, due to the corona epidemic, more than half of them canceled the climb and returned home.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Everest climbing, the tourism department hopes that more climbers will come this year than in 2021. According to the climbing management association, the number of climbers staying at the Everest base camp will be at least 2500, as the climbers who come to climb the Lhotse and Nupse mountains also use the Everest base camp. It is difficult for them to get essential goods to the base camp.

When there was a sign of enthusiastic participation of the climbers, the local Khumbu Pasanglhamu rural municipality raised the issue of environmental and local employment and stipulated that helicopters should not be used to transport goods near the base camp. Climbing operators are under stress after the condition that they have to use chaunri, jokpe and porters instead of helicopters. This condition of the local government has added to their concern that climbing will be affected at the beginning of the season.

Earlier, the rural municipality had been allowing food and climbing materials to be transported by helicopter to Dingboche at a height of 4,400 meters and nearby Feriche. However, from this year, the climbing operators say that they have introduced a rule that they can only carry goods by helicopter up to 3,800 meters high Sangboche. It is the stance of the municipality that porters, yaks or jokpe should be used to move goods above there.

It takes two days for porters to carry goods from Sangboche to Dingboche. Climbing operators complain that they are having trouble getting to the same base camp as there are not enough porters, jokpe and yaks. There are fewer porters in the Khumbu region than before because they cannot find work forever. Local youths have entered the city in search of education, employment and work. Financially able are in hotel, trekking and mountaineering business. On the other hand, due to the lack of attraction towards the animal husbandry profession, Chaunri and Jokpe are also insufficient, says the climbing manager.

As the climbing season approaches, the local government's conditions have put them in trouble, say mountaineer operators. According to the Association, some foreign climbers who have taken permission to climb Lhotse Mountain from the Seven Summit Trek have changed their plans and are ready to climb Makalu Mountain due to the delay in reaching the base camp. According to the association, this has put other climbers at odds.

The local residents and the rural municipality have been saying that the climbing manager has taken away the jobs of the locals by commercializing the Everest climbing under the guise of power and money. The use of helicopters in the Everest region has increased after the climbers who paid a lot of money were moved from the second camp in the name of rescue by influencing the administrator. According to the locals, garbage has also increased since the helicopters started transporting goods directly to the base camp.

In general, it seems that the rural municipality is doing politics in the name of employment in the interests of the locals and helicopter operators, but if this problem is not resolved in time, the mountaineering operators are afraid that the mountain climbing itself will be affected.

They demand that the local government and the tourism department, which is responsible for managing the climb, should solve the problem in time.

"My 7,000 kilos of goods are stuck in Sangboche. Seven thousand have been deposited in Thaksin. Since they were not allowed to use the helicopter, the Sherpas, who work at the base camp all day, come and stay in the cowshed after evening," said ATK.

Lakpa complained that after many climbers had booked this year, they had transported the goods to the base camp even though they had transported the goods in helicopters half way. This year, 55 people have booked climbing permits for climbing Everest and 15 people for climbing Lhotse Himal from his company. To manage it, 80 Sherpa mountain guides and helpers have reached the Everest base camp and 80 people are on the way to the base camp. The necessary goods for them are stored on the road.

"Even the icefall team that went to make the way has not reached the second camp. If there is a similar obstacle in the transportation of goods to us, I see the danger of Nepal being disgraced due to traffic jams on Mount Everest," Lakpa said.

Climbing managers are worried that if the goods are not delivered on time, there may be delays in the construction of tents at the base camp and the construction of ropes to the summit. If the road is not built in time, then in a short time of one or two weeks, all the climbers will leave for the summit, so there will be a problem of traffic jam. The Everest Pollution Committee is in charge of building a road to reach the second camp through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall through the base camp. Every year, the mountain climbing management association has been making tenders from climbing organizations to build the road from the second camp to the peak. If the road is not available in time, the climbers have to face the problem of traffic jams on the road as all the climbers leave for mountain climbing in a short period of time.

In 2019, at least 11 people lost their lives while climbing towards the summit. Many of these deaths were linked to hours-long traffic jams. Nepal was criticized in the international media for not being able to make the climb safe at that time.

After the local government, which has a constitutionally separate right, raised the demand of banning the use of helicopters in view of the employment problems of the locals, the team of climbing operators association met the director general of the tourism department, Homprasad Luintel, and asked him to take immediate steps to solve the problem. Carrying a written demand, they asked that all transportation options should be opened through the rural municipality and district administration office, Solukhumbu, including the assurance of helicopter facilities.

Following the request of the management association, the department has written separate letters to the rural municipality and district administration office on Thursday to facilitate the solution of the problem. "Though the demand for employment raised by the locals is good, there is some tension because this issue has been raised in front of the climb," said Vijnyan Koirala, official of the tourism department, "Now we have asked the rural municipality and the local administration to find a solution immediately. The problem should not be prolonged."

Tags: height of everest