With the world’s tallest peak unofficially closed for the season in the wake of the deadly avalanche that buried 16 mountaineering support staff and guides on April 18, more than 350 mountaineers have headed for other mountains.
According to Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, the tourism industry division has issued climbing permits for 28 more mountains including seven peaks above 8,000 metres, Mt Everest excluded, for the spring season.
“Nearly 350 climbers from 65 expeditions are set to climb 28 other peaks,” Tilak Pandey, an officer at TID said.
Pandey said there were 96 expeditions in total, including 31 for Mt Everest (8,848 metres). Permits for nine expeditions to Mt Lhotse (8,516 metres), five for Mt Makalu (8,463 metres), four each for Mt Dhaulagiri (8,167 metres) and Mt Kanchanjunga (8,586 metres), two expeditions for Mt Annapurna I (8,091 metres) and one for Mt Manaslu (8,163 metres) and Mt Yalung Kang (8,505 metres) have been issued.
Many climbers are also interested in climbing other peaks like Nuptse, Ama Dablam and Dhampus, among others, he said. All but one expedition were guided by foreign leaders. “Kame Magar of ‘Orphan Child Welfare Charity Everest Expedition’ was the only Nepali expedition leader this season.”
Among the 48 trekking and adventures companies that have been assigned to handle 96 climbing expeditions this season, Seven Summit Treks will be operating 11 expeditions, while Himalayan Guides Nepal Trek has organised eight expeditions. Asian Trekking and Mountain Experience each have five expeditions. Shangri-La Nepal Treks and Beyul Adventures have four expeditions each.
There are currently 326 peaks open for climbing, including 20 royalty-free peaks. The government has opened only 22 peaks to Nepali expeditions or joint Nepali-Foreign expeditions consisting of at least three Nepali members; while 102 peaks are open exclusively for foreign expeditions. Ministry data shows there are 1,455 trekking and 1,884 travel and tour agencies registered in the country.
On average, each climber has to pay at least US$ 1,500 for peaks above 8,000 metres except Mt Everest, the ministry said, adding that royalty amount ranging from US$ 200 to 400 should be paid for mountains ranging from 5,000 metres to 7,000 metres, in addition to the fee for a climbing permit. Individual climbers have to pay US$ 10,000 royalty to climb Mt Everest.