Problems of the Government of Nepal with Mountain Climbing Everest
Mount Everest, a mountain sitting on the ridge of the Great Himalayas of southern Asia, located in the Khumbu region, situated on the border between Tibet Autonomous Region and Nepal. Known greatest for its name as the highest mountain in the world, reaching an elevation of 29,035 feet (8,850 meters). The region Khumbu, home to the Sherpas, who are the people of the local villages and play a huge role in the economics of the mountain. Everest is shaped like a three-sided pyramid, covered by rock-hard snow and a layer of softer snow that builds up almost 5 to 20 feet annually. The summit and upper slopes sit so high in the atmosphere that the amount of breathable oxygen there is one-third of the amount at sea level. The ranges have always been centered with attention for many newcomers, attracting increasing numbers of tourists every year. In the early years, only mountaineering expeditions were permitted until the region was opened and thousands of visitors came and continued to grow for the following decades. A majority of climbers who come to trek this mountain are from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Western Europe, and the United States. With Everest’s many wonders, there have been various recent controversies with the issues circling the mountain. In result, the Nepalese government must establish and enforce regulations for climbing Mount Everest. However, this leads to speculations on whether the decisions made by the Nepalese government will be beneficial.
Climbing Mount Everest is seen as one of the most dangerous treks in the world. Its world renowned name will always attract climbers to the mountain, irrespective of the risks involved. Attempting to summit the mountain can fall fatal with a fatality rate of up to 6.5% of the climbers who attempt to summit. When on the peak, there is the chance of running into multiple unpredictable situations. Cracking ice flows, avalanches, and deadly crevices are just a few of the hardships standing in the way of climbers. Even though scaling the peak today is a lot safer than it was years ago, there are still significant risks due to overcrowding and long lines to summit the mountain. The most cruel factor of being up on the mountain is the lack of oxygen that people experience. With lines of people standing along the ridge, they are sitting, waiting for their own death. People stand in lines for hours to come, some do not even pack enough oxygen so they do not have enough to make it back down the mountain. Body temperatures drop, and they slowly become more and more vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia as they are losing physical strength. For many, extreme altitude sickness disorientates climbers, even those who are experienced, and many perish at this point. In result, the climbing point above 8,000 meters is commonly associated as the “death zone”. The bodies of those who have died are never recovered due to logistical difficulty to retrieve the bodies and the man power to bring them down. Within the last 5 years, a total of 41 deaths have occurred. Just this past year, a record number of climbers attempted to reach the summit within a small time period resulting in areas of bottlenecks, which are partly to blame for the recent 11 deaths. In total, out of the over 23,000 attempts, there have been 291 recorded deaths.
In an article written, “Everest through the eyes of a Sherpa: ‘Climbers need to wake up’” Kami Rita Sherpa who has the record for summiting Everest stated that he believes the contributing factors to the recent deaths are the number of inexperienced climbers. Kami is a veteran climber and has seen it all. He had a first hand experience with this issue with one of his clients, and he agrees that they are making the problem worse. He also blames numerous tour companies for advertising this climb as ‘easy’. Many first-timers are set to believe that since they are in the hands of a ‘Sherpa guide’ they will be rescued in a time of need. For many veteran sherpas, they don’t want to carry the burden on themselves worrying about those who weren’t prepared but, they always want their clients to succeed but always have their best intentions in mind. WIth this instance, sherpas like Kami support the rules for specific requirements to trek Everest as it makes both his and the clients experience better.
In addition to being the world’s highest mountain, Everest can also be described as the world’s highest rubbish dump. With the mountain’s frequent ascents of commercial mountaineering, there are also resources and materials that hikers bring with them for their once in a lifetime adventure. Everest is often littered with garbage that has collectively built up from the past decades, and fills the peak with filth causing shameful environmental risks. Over the years, the mountain has accumulated tons of garbage including cans, bottles, plastic, and discarded climbing gear. Back in 2018, cleanup teams were sent up the mountain and retrieved 70,500 pounds of waste with over one third of it human excrement. Human and animals waste can actually can actually contribute to the contamination of freshwater which has led to many environmentalists to raise questions.
Multiple other trekking companies and organizations have attempted to regulate the mountain’s debris, but with little success. Not only because of the intensity, but the size of the problem. Many of Mount Everest’s base camps are heaping of garbage; much of which is too immense for environmentalists to control. Countless efforts have been made to address this issue along with the Nepalese government, individuals, and organizations. They have attempted to remove all the garbage found at base camps and even old existing garbage. The government is trying to cater to these crowds but it just results in an increased amount of rubbish. With the lack of recycling facilities and consistent waste management on the mountain, the issue jeopardizes the extraordinary ecosystems at Everest and possibly causing irreversible damage.
For the Nepalese government, their dependence on the growth and development of their tourism is a key to their economic growth. Tourism has become a vital economic attribution as it holds as a safe blanket for the government to lean back on. Many tourism based businesses have been built in the region in the interest of the constant flow of travelers that come to Mount Everest. The government profits immensely from just the cost of the hike. The investment in the climb itself can cost “between $25,000 and $75,000 to even $100,000 per person” according to The Economic Times. That does not even include the additional gear that many people prefer. Statistics from The Economic Times, states that “the Nepal government earn around $300 million as royalty fees from climbers every season.” With the recent decrease in tourism due to the implementation of regulations, the income from the mountain is projected to decrease. As a result, the local people of Khumbu (Sherpas, a Nepalese ethnic group best known for their climbing skills, superior strength, and endurance in high altitudes), who take trekkers up the mountain, are then deprived of their income.
As the Nepalese government earns millions from these expeditions, very little of these earnings actually goes to the Sherpas. A very large portion of the Sherpa households have lives that are led based around the income that is generated from the tourism of Everest. The different tasks and earnings of the Sherpas varies depending on broad language capabilities, experience, the load they carry each time they ascend, and the tips they receive from customers. Both sherpa men and women are capable of finding jobs. Especially men, who find that trekking and mountaineering job come easily. On the other hand, women can be seen participating in kitchen or camp crews located at base camps. With the treacherous tasks the sherpas undertake, they can acquire between $3,500 and $5,000 per season. The more experienced Sherpas have the possibility of even earning up to $8,000 a climb. For those who reach the summit, they receive bonuses for accomplishing it. With their lives on the line, the earnings that the Sherpas make barely neutralizes what they do. Compared to Nepalese residents, who earn an average gross salary of about 368,792 Nepalese Rupees which translates to $3,218 U.S. dollars, the Sherpas earn a fairly well amount surpassing the local average. However, after the recent tragedy this past April, the Nepal government, along with the Nepal Mountaineering Association, have been reviewing and addressing the issue of regulating the number of climbers to prevent the bottleneck that occurred. On the down side of this issue, for the sherpas, the regulations will result in less climbers and leaving the Sherpas with a slower rate of income.
With the recent increase of fatalities occurring on the mountain, the Nepalese government has forcefully applied requirements to attempt to summit the mountain. Not too long ago, an issue surfaced about the dangerous human traffic jams along the ridge of Mount Everest. Over four months ago (August 2019), Nepalese officials proposed new rules for the mountain regarding the safety of the climbers. The rules would help to facilitate the number of permits assigned to climbers. Ultimately, leading to less trekkers attempting to climb up to the world’s highest peak. In addition, future climbers would need to show evidence that they have scaled another significant peak to justify their experience and physical capability. Tour companies will also need to provide proof that they have at least three years experience with high-altitude excursions before pursuing Everest according to Nepal’s Tourism Ministry. To prevent loss in finances, the Ministry has also stated, “clients of expedition companies would have to prove, before setting out, that they had paid at least $35,000 for the expedition. (A typical total price tag easily surpasses $50,000.)”
The revelations of the guidelines materialized months after experiencing one of the worst climbing seasons in recent years. Findings from government investigators revealed eye-catching issues regarding the management of Mount Everest. Nepali officials have even considered compulsory mandatory health checkups before continuing to summit at Everest’s base camp. The government has already implemented a rule stating that climbers must display passports and present certifications indicating that they are healthy enough to make it to the summit whether or not they are going to the top. It remains to be seen whether officials will be able to authenticate health documentation and authorized climbing permits.
Even with the recent rules and regulations, there will always be areas where improvements can be addressed. To successfully address the various issues facing Everest, the Nepalese government will need to overcome inefficiency, mismanagement, and corruption. “This is all for ensuring a quality expedition,” Ghanshyam Upadhyay, a member of the government team that looked into safety on Everest, said of the planned regulations. Former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, Ang Tshering Sherpa, expressed that the government was heading in the right direction as far as the new rules they are exploring for Mount Everest. The choice for the government to enforce rules was not voluntary as the need for these rules was urgent. The decision on which rules to apply was not a simple choice as there are numerous positives and negatives to reaching a decision. Modernization is slowly coming into place every season as the government is focusing on the need for their revised laws to ensure the safety of all their climbers and make each of their experiences favorable. Expectations for the mountain are rising as the demands from the public are voiced, but actions are envisioned for the near future to mend the wounds linked to the wondrous Mount Everest.