TIMS cards mandatory in all trekking areas from next week

Foreigners will have to get Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) cards for all trekking areas in the country starting next week.

A joint meeting of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) held on Monday took the decision.

Though a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementation of TIMS signed by NTB and TAAN on March 19 had made TIMS mandatory in all trekking areas of the country, the two agencies had delayed implementation of the new MoU citing lack of preparation.

So far TIMS is mandatory in trekking trails in Everest, Langtang and Annapurna regions only.

As per the new MoU, foreigners heading to Kanchanjunga, Makalu-Barun, Everest, Rolwaling, Panchpokhari-Bhairavkunda, Langtang-Helambu, Ganesh Himal-Ruby Valley, Manaslu, Annapurna Region, Mustang, Dolpa, Rara and Humla must get TIMS cards.

“We couldn’t implement the new MoU right after it was signed as we needed time to inform trekking agencies, print TIMS card and arrange logistics. Now, we will implement mandatory TIMS provision from next week,” TAAN President Ramesh Prasad Dhamala said.

Ramesh Adhikari, administrative chief of NTB, said that NTB will issue TIMS cards for Free Individual Trekkers (FITs) from its head office in Kathmandu and its Pokhara office, while TAAN will issue TIMS cards for group trekkers as well as FITs from its office at Maligaun and TIMS Counter in Thamel.

As per the new provision, group trekkers will be issued ‘blue’ TIMS card upon payment of Rs 1,000, while FITs will get ‘green’ TIMS card after paying a fee of Rs 2,000 each. Similarly, mountaineers with climbing permits issued by Department of Tourism (DoT) and Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) will get ‘yellow’ TIMS cards by paying a fee of Rs 2,000 each. Similarly, group trekkers and FITs from SAARC countries will have to pay a fee of Rs 300 and Rs 600, respectively.

Foreigners working with government agencies or diplomatic missions need to acquire TIMS card by paying a fee of Rs 500 each. They, however, are required to submit their detailed itinerary and official request letter from their employers.

As per the MoU, TAAN will levy 100 percent penalty on trekkers if they fail to produce TIMS cards at the check posts. However, they can swap the permit taken for one area to another area in case of unavoidable circumstances by submitting an application within a week of issuance of cards.

“To ensure that the trekkers have taken TIMS cards before start of the trek, we will mobilize a monitoring team in different trekking areas,” said Adhikari.

Of the total revenue collected through TIMS, NTB, TAAN, and joint fund of NTB and TAAN will get 30 percent each, while remaining 10 percent will go to Worker’s Welfare Fund, according to the MoU.

Source: Myrepublica



Icefall doctors fix new route

Icefall doctors have completed the construction of a new South Col route up the world’s highest peak and they are committed to ensuring that it remains accessible throughout this climbing season.

According to Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which has been assigned by the government to mobilise a team of eight icefall doctors led by Ang Kami Sherpa to construct the route in ‘killer’ icefall region, it completed the construction of route starting from Base Camp (5,335m) to Camp 2 (6,400m) yesterday.

Yangji Doma Sherpa, an officer at SPCC, said the climbers who had been acclimatising in the Khumbu region before attempting to scale Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Nuptse would use the newly constructed route in the next couple of weeks.

According to icefall doctors, the new route up to Camp 1 (6,000m) is completely new and the climbers have to pass close to Mt Nuptse.

Icefall doctors, who fixed ropes and aluminum ladders in the icefall region, said at least four vertical ladders were tied together at one point. “It avoids the hanging ice on the West Shoulder that killed 16 mountaineering support staff and guides near Camp 1 in April last year,” said SPCC’s base camp manager Tshering Sherpa.

Though the new route appears to be more vertical climb and steeper than the traditional one, the climbers will get a chance to pass through a completely new icy slope after more than two decades of the Everest climbing history.

“It may make journey up through the icefall slower and a bit difficult but the route is comparatively safer than the previous one, as it minimises the risk of serac avalanches,” Sherpa said.

SPCC has recommended that operators, workers and climbers must ensure that there is only one climber on any ladder at any given time.

It has stated that individual high altitude mountain workers should carry limited loads so as not to overload the ladders, adding that they should strictly adhere to safety measures, such as clipping harnesses to safety ropes while on ladders.

According to the Department of Tourism, the government has assigned SPCC to construct a new route for the spring season at a cost of 25,000 USD. Acclaimed mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears and climbing expert Pete Athans have offered their technical, as well as theoretical, expertise in constructing the new route up to Camp 1, according to SPCC.

“Climbers have been acclimatising in Khumbu to prepare themselves for summit bid but some teams are scrambling to get their gears to the base camp due to shortage of porters,” climber Alan Arnette told this daily from Namche.

According to Gyanendra Shrestha, a DoT official, the department has already issued climbing permits to 36 expedition teams comprising 319 climbers for Mt Everest. “Of them, 109 climbers renewed their 2014 permits while four more new teams will also be applying for the world’s highest peak in a day or two,” he said. Ninety-three climbers, including 23 from the last year’s teams, have obtained permit for Mt Lhotse.

Source: THT


Work begins to establish safer route up Everest

Work has begun to chart a new Everest route from Base Camp to Camp I to avoid the present avalanche-prone path for the safety of climbers, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) said. The task is expected to be completed by early April in time for the 2015 spring climbing season.

“Eight Icefall doctors are currently working on developing the alternative route. They have completed work up to the Popcorn area and from there, the existing route will be slightly modified to connect Camp II,” said Kapindra Rai, the programme officer at the SPCC.

“Based on the report of the Icefall doctors on Monday, the alternative route will be completed by April 2-3 depending on the icefall condition,” he added.

According to Rai, the proposed route will be slight curved and comparatively more time consuming than the old route. “If the work is completed by early April, climbing will likely begin on May 11 depending on weather conditions.”

Meanwhile, expedition agencies said that the number of Everest aspirants is likely to jump this spring season as the government has announced that the climbers who had to abandon their summit bids last year will be permitted to make another attempt individually or with any expedition of their choice. The Cabinet had recently approved the proposal of the Tourism Ministry to allow the mountaineers to make a second attempt on the peak.

However, the climbers who had received group permits will have to pay an additional $1,000 per person on top of the $10,000 royalty they paid to the government last season. The additional royalty is based on the new climbing fee policy that went into effect on January 1 this year. “We expect the number of climbers to double this season as the government has been flexible in permitting mountaineers to climb individually or with an expedition,” said Mingma Sherpa, managing director of Seven Summit Treks and Expedition.

“We have received 60 percent confirmation from the climbers who gave up their climbs last year,” he said. The agency had handled 50 climbers during the 2014 spring season. “Besides, we have been receiving good response from new climbers,” said Sherpa.

According to him, the move to change the route is a good initiative to make climbing safer. “However, it does not guarantee full safety as the icefall will always be a perilous and completely unpredictable stretch on Everest.”

Last year, the Tourism Ministry had issued climbing permits to 39 groups comprising more than 330 individuals and collected $3.2 million in fees. However, tragedy struck on April 18 when 16 Nepali climbers were buried under seracs at the Khumbu Icefall, also known as Popcorn Field, due to the treacherous blocks of ice on the glacier.

The disaster led high-altitude guides to boycott expeditions and launch strikes. Subsequently, the government extended the validity of the permits to five years for foreigners who had to turn back as a result of the protest. During the 2013 season, 567 of the 678 climbers who obtained permits succeeded in reaching the top of Everest. There were 334 guides including a number of Nepali climbers. The government earned $3.16 million in royalties.

According to government data, 4,411 people have climbed the highest peak on earth since the first ascent in 1953. 

Source: eKantipur


Lo Manthang opened for tourists

Lo Manthang, the upper belt in Mustang district, has been opened for tourists with the melting of the snow in the area. A ban was imposed for tourists in the famous tourist destination for some time after heavy snowfall on its way during the last week of February.

Tourists have started visiting Lo Mangthang after the melting of the snow in the trekking route.

Chief of Lo Mangthang Station of Annapurna Conservation Are Project (ACAP) Santosh Sherchan said that the area was opened for tourists after improvement in weather condition.

“Tourists have started visiting from mid March as the route to Lo Manthan was clear after snowmelt,” Sherchan said. Most of the visitors in the area are from the third countries. 

Source: MyRepublica

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