Everest Fees Drop

everest-death24nw1 The Globe and Mail/www.theglobeandmail.com

Everest Fees Drop

By Nicole Halseth, News Editor

Fees for climbers on Mount Everest will drop substantially, in a bid to attract more tourists to the world’s highest mountain. This move comes despite growing concerns over the increasing environmental impacts of the already crowded Everest during the high season.

Head of Nepal’s Department of Mountains, Madhusudan Burlakoti, said that as of next year, it will cost $11,000 US per person to climb the mountain.

Current regulations dictate that each climber must pay $25,000 US. However, larger parties pay $70,000 for a group of seven. This significantly discounted rate has encouraged climbers to team up, regardless of familiarity or experience, in order to pay less.Under the new rules announced on 14 February, each climber must pay the flat rate, and there will no longer be group discounts.

On the subject, Burlakoti said “We hope to attract more climbers and also at the same time better manage the climbing teams. This will allow the smaller teams and individuals more freedom when they climb Everest.”

The high fees for climbing Everest have long drawn criticism from skeptics who claim the rates only allow the very rich to have the opportunity to go up the mountain. As such, this price decline may be enthusiastically received by many around the world, despite the realities of how much money it may actually save mountaineers.

However, the move is not welcomed by everyone. Notably, environmentalists are already concerned about the pressures of tourism on the mountain. Should this price drop increase traffic on Everest, it is likely these pressures will also increase.

A leader of a non-profit group around Everest, Dil Bahadur Gurung of the Kathmandu Environment Education Project, responded to the move by saying “The government should have done a proper study of the impact before deciding to allow more climbers on the mountain. More climbers would naturally mean negative impact on the mountains.” He also claims that the old high fees helped regulate traffic on the mountain and keep tourism at a manageable level.

810 climbers attempted Everest from Nepal during the previous high season, last spring. From this, environmental impacts included garbage deposits from food wrappers, oxygen containers, and other climbing gear. According to the Globe and Mail, this litter has even led to Everest being referred to as “the world’s highest garbage dump.”

Despite prompts for more regulation on the mountain, the Nepalese government has refused. According to the Globe and Mail, a prominent critic, Italian climbing legend Reinhold Messner, has even “called for Nepal to close down Everest for a few years for the mountain to rest and recover.” The Nepalese government collects $3.3-million annually just from the climbing fee. Additionally, the tourism from mountaineers on Everest brings a substantial boost to local economies and supports numerous livelihoods, such as those of tens of thousands of hotel owners, guides, and porters.

The Nepalese government is also decreasing the climbing fees for the eight (of 14) other highest peaks in the world that also reside within the country.

According to the head of a governmental review committee on the subject, Ang Tshering, “the government plans to more strictly monitor climbers to make sure they bring down all their climbing gear, food wrappings and oxygen cylinders.” Tshering continued by stating that “Our focus has been on minimizing the negative impact on the environment in the Everest region.”

If you cannot get enough of the ice and snow, or if you have been thinking of climbing Everest but have been held back by the high prices of the past, this could be your chance to climb the world’s highest peak for less! Best of luck to all those brave adventurers.