Nepal is to open five new 8000 metre Himalayan peaks to climbers to increase the numbers of adventurers and boost its income from tourism.
The move comes amid growing concerns that Everest, the world’s highest mountain and Nepal’s greatest tourist attraction, is becoming dangerously overcrowded.
In April this year a British Alpinist and two fellow climbers blamed overcrowding and commercialisation for a clash with Sherpas who kicked them and pelted them with rocks close to the summit. Jon Griffith told the Telegraph the attack reflected a fierce resentment at the growing number of ‘luxury mountaineers’ being taken to the top in style by commercial expedition companies.
Last year veteran Korean climber Song Young-il blamed dangerous delays and long queues for the summit for a number of deaths. His friend Song Wong-bin was among four climbers who died after they were forced to wait four hours to reach the summit to allow 300 climbers to pass. “We had to wait 200 metres from the summit and we became snow blind. We waited for four hours. We couldn’t see,” he said.
The Nepal government has tasked a committee to resolve conflicts between climbers and Sherpas and to reduce the delays during the brief three-month window between April and June when reaching the summit is possible.
However senior tourism official Mohan Krishna Sapkota told the Telegraph on Wednesday there was no plan to reduce the number of climbers on Everest, but instead a determination to increase the number of climbers on Nepal’s 1500 snow-capped peaks.
Many of them remain unnamed and without the base camp infrastructure of the world’s highest peak. But according to Mr Sapkota, many more will eventually be opened to adventurers.
“We have 1500 Himalayan mountains with snow coverage and only 326 of them are open. We have to open more mountains and now we are making a plan for that. We have many mountains over 8,000 metres. There are four at Kanchenjunga and it’s similar at Lhotse,” he said.
“You can’t compare Everest to other mountains but we want to provide an opportunity to mountaineers to climb new mountains. We are managing how we can make for more safe climbing on Everest, but the new mountains are another issue. We are opening new tourism products for Nepal,” he said.