Government opening liaison office at Everest Base Camp in March

The government has started preparations to set up its contact office at Everest Base Camp for the spring season which begins in March.

Officials say once the office starts operations, mountaineers will feel safer. Also, they can get required information in time.
“We will be setting up the office for three months. Our officials will provide necessary information to climbers, provide weather updates, and settle disputes arising among climbers and mountaineering workers,” Puspa Raj Katuwal, chief of mountaineering division at the Department of Tourism, said. “Officials will also monitor the activities of guides and climbers to ensure that illegal activities do not take place.”

The government had opened similar office at the base camp in April last year.

Officials deputed at the contact office will also be responsible for setting up emergency response team to help in case any disaster happens. The office will have computer with email and Internet facility, satellite phones and mobile phones for quick exchange of information, according to officials of the department.

The government is setting up the office in the beginning of the season this year after it was heavily criticized for not having a proper mechanism to provide weather updates after an avalanche took lives of 16 mountaineering workers. Following the incident, almost all expedition teams had canceled their expedition.

The department is holding talks with the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology for putting in place an appropriate mechanism to provide weather updates to trekkers. It is also working to develop GPS tracking system for climbers.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to change climbing route near Khumbu Icefall slightly to avoid the area where avalanche occurred last year. Officials of the department say there will be a slight change route this season. “Climbers will have to deviate around 40 meters right of the regular trail which will extend the trip to Camp I by around 2 hours,” they said.

“We have given high priority to safety concerns this year as we are expecting rise in the number of climbers due to reduction in climbing fee,” said Katuwal.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, around 450 climbers reach the summit of Mt Everest annually. The tallest peak on earth has been climbed by more than 4,000 climbers since the first summit of Mt Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.

Source: Republica