Hundreds of aspiring Everest ers who had been forced to abandon their summit bids last April due to the deadliest ever avalanche have been permitted to make another attempt individually or with any expedition of their choice. The Cabinet on Thursday approved the proposal of the Tourism Ministry allowing the mountaineers to mount a second attempt on the peak.
However, those climbers who had been issued permits in groups will have to pay an additional $1,000 per person on top of the $10,000 royalty they had paid to the government last season, said Tourism Ministry Spokesperson Mohan Krishna Sapkota.
“The additional royalty is based on the new climbing fee policy that went into effect on January 1 this year.”
The government last year had dissolved the group royalty system and the individual royalty was cut sharply to create uniformity in the royalty payment system and to attract more mountaineers.
As per the revised rate, a sum of $11,000 has been fixed for all foreigners aspiring to climb Everest during the spring season from the normal route (Southeast Ridge).
Likewise, a sum of $10,000 has been fixed for a climber climbing Everest from other routes.
The royalty for climbers on the Southeast Ridge route during autumn has been revised to $5,500 from $12,500, while for summer/winter, it has been revised to $2,750 per person from $6,250.
Earlier, the royalty for Everest ranged from $15,000-$70,000 per expedition depending on the number of members and the route.
For an expedition that may have a maximum of 15 members (group), a fee of $10,000 per person was charged during the spring climbing season. For an individual, the royalty fee was $25,000. “We have revised the policy amid mountaineers concern that it would be difficult for them to find their last year’s group to climb the peak this year.”
The Tourism Ministry had issued climbing permits to 39 groups comprising more than 330 individuals and collected $3.2 million in revenues last year.
However, on April 18, 16 Nepali climbers were buried under seracs at the Khumbu Icefall, also known as Popcorn Field to climbers that eventually led high-altitude guides to boycott expeditions and launch strikes.
The season saw only one expedition, consisting of a Chinese woman and five Sherpa climbers, as all the other expeditions were called off following the incident.
Subsequently, the government extended the validity of the permits for five years for foreigners who had abandoned their expeditions.
In 2013, of the 678 climbers who obtained permits, 567 succeeded in reaching the top. There were 334 guides including some Nepali climbers. The government earned $3.16 million in royalties.
According to government data, 4,411 people have climbed Everest since the first ascent in 1953. Nearly 250 have died on its slopes. The actual climbing will start from mid-May, and the mountaineers spend time on the lower reaches of the Himalaya to acclimatise themselves.
Government officials said that Everest was likely to see an increase in the number of climbers this season that begins from March-end.