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Individual permit extension on cards

The government is mulling over revising the mountaineering regulation to allow all climbers to utilise their group permits that were issued to Mt Everest expeditions during the last spring season on an individual basis within the next five years.

The government’s move comes after mountaineers and stakeholders from across the world criticised its latest decision on five-year extension of group permits, warning that such a decision would not augur well for the country’s mountaineering sector.

“The Department of Tourism, in consultation with Secretary at the Ministry Of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Man Shrestha and others has decided to make necessary procedural arrangements to allow all 318 climbers who abandoned their Mt Everest bid in spring to utilise their permits on individual basis by 2019,” DoT’s Director General Tulsi Gautam told THT.

According to him, DoT also forwarded a proposal to Secretary Shrestha this afternoon asking the ministry to commence the processes to amend the mountaineering regulation to make valid the group permits issued to spring expeditions for all individual climbers for five years.

“MoCTCA will also seek a Cabinet nod to the amendment proposal after holding consultation with law and finance ministries as soon as possible,” he said, requesting all mountaineers, including those who aim to take the challenge in spring 2015, to expedite their preparatory work. “Though it will take some time to formalise the related documents by following due procedures, all permits will remain valid for a single attempt till 2019 even after any member of the respective expeditions scales Mt Everest on his/her own.”

The Expedition Operators’ Association of Nepal, with more than 10 international expedition organisers, had submitted a memorandum to DoT on Monday seeking an immediate revision of its month-old decision, saying it’s highly impractical, as all climbers reside in different parts of the world.

EOAN President Dambar Parajuli appreciated DoT’s move urging the authorities to make their permits transferable from one company to another if anyone wanted to do so.

All climbers of 30 expeditions, except a Chinese mountaineer Wang Jing, were forced to abandon their bid to scale Mt Everest after 16 mountaineering support staff and guides were buried in the deadliest avalanche that struck the slope of Mt Everest on April 18.

DoT data shows it had collected Rs 356 million as royalty from the spring climbers, each of who paid a permit fee of $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the size of their expeditions. International operators, including Himalayan Experience, Himalayan Guides, Peak Freaks, Jagged Globe, Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents International, Exploradus, Benegas Brothers, International Mountain Guides, Rainier Mountaineering and Altitude Junkies had organised most of the expeditions.

Source: THT