The court in Nepal has imposed a limit on climbing permits for Everest

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Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to limit the number of mountain permits issued for Everest and other peaks, a lawyer confirmed on May 3, 2024, just as expeditions prepare for the spring climbing season. File. | Photo credit: AFP

Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to limit the number of mountain permits issued for Everest and other peaks, a lawyer confirmed, just as expeditions prepare for the spring climbing season.

The Himalayan republic is home to eight of the world’s ten highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers every spring, when temperatures are warm and winds are generally calm.

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The verdict was handed down in late April, but a summary was only published this week.

Lawyer Deepak Bikram Mishra, who had filed a petition urging the curtailment of permits, told AFP that the court had responded to public concerns about Nepal’s mountains and environment.

“It has placed a limit on the number of climbers… and also taken measures for waste management and conservation of the mountain environment,” Mr Mishra said.

The summary of the judgment stated that the capacity of the mountains “must be respected” and that an appropriate maximum number of permits should be set.

The full text of the judgment has not been published and the summary does not mention any specific limitation on the number of permits issued.

Nepal is currently granting permits to anyone who applies and is willing to pay $11,000 to climb Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,849 meters (29,032 feet) above sea level.

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Last year the country granted 478 permits for Everest, a record high.

A massive human traffic jam on Everest in 2019 forced teams to wait hours at the summit in freezing temperatures, risking oxygen shortages that could lead to illness and exhaustion.

At least four of the eleven deaths during that year’s peak were attributed to overcrowding.

Give it some delay

“We are putting too much pressure on the mountain and we need to give it some respite,” Mr Mishra said.

The court ruling also limits the use of helicopters for emergency rescue purposes only.

Helicopters have been used extensively in recent years to airlift mountaineering teams to base camps and over dangerous terrain.

Nima Nuru Sherpa, chairman of Nepal Mountaineering Association, said such decisions should be taken after proper study and consultation with stakeholders.

“It is not clear at this time what consequences this will have for the sector. We do not know on what basis the limits will be set and how they will be distributed among the forwarding companies,” Sherpa said.

“Our focus should instead be on how we can make the mountains safer.”

Nepal has granted permits to 945 climbers for its mountains so far this year, including 403 for Everest.

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