The Nepal government on Wednesday said it would adopt strict measures while issuing Mt Everest climbing permits to ensure mountaineers’ safety.

Addressing a programme organised to mark the diamond jubilee or the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest here, Nepal’s Tourism Minister Ram Kumar Shrestha said the government would verify climbers’ experience, health and age before allowing them to climb Everest. The move is meant to ensure climbers’ safety and also to stop overcrowding on Everest, Shrestha said.

“Apart from that, the government will speed up rescue measures for mountaineers, stop unauthorised broadcasting of Everest and enforce strict guidelines to prevent pollution in the Khumbu region,” he said.

He added that the government’s liaison officers in the Everest region will be mobilised in a more effective manner amid concerns that they are not performing well when it comes to stopping ‘unprofessional conduct’ in the Everest region. The government has also doubled health and other insurances of porters, high-altitude Sherpa guides and individuals involved in the rescue mission in the mountain region. Tourism Ministry Secretary Sushil Ghimire said Everest is an asset not only for the Nepalis but for people all around the world. “The highest peak is open for all people,” he said. The grandson of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Tashi Tenzing, who has climbed Everest three times, said everyone deserves to climb Everest. “We cannot restrict or stop anyone from climbing the tallest mountain.”

President of Everest Summiteers’ Association Wanchu Sherpa urged the government to make proper allocation of revenue in the Khumbu region from royalty collected by issuing climbing permits. The government collects more than Rs 270 million by issuing the permits annually.

Wanchu urged the government to develop a road up to Surkhe-the lower part of Lukla. Annually, hundreds of tourists get stranded in Lukla, the only gateway to Everest. “As people are stranded, they are compelled to pay US$ 500 to return to Kathmandu through a helicopter.” Sixty years ago on May 29, the Nepali flag was unfolded on the top of the world, which opened the gate for Nepal’s tourism. In between 1953 to 2013, more than 4,000 individuals have climbed Everest.

On Wednesday, the government honoured family members of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first men to scale Everest. It also feted other Everest record holders with a chariot procession from the Nepal Tourism Board office at Bhrikutimandap to the Basantapur Durbar Square.

Sherchan slams permit delay

Eighty-one-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan, who failed to regain his world record as the oldest man to scale Mt Everest, on Wednesday said he “smelled rat” on the “last-minute” decision of the government to issue him a climbing permit.

“I don’t know why the government deliberately delayed my climbing permit,” Sherchan told the Post. “As today (Wednesday) is a big day, I don’t want to spoil the party, but I will expose next week why the government acted differently on me.”

He said he will continue his Everest bid until he is 84 years old-or two more seasons.

The Cabinet issued the permit to Sherchan on May 23, two days before the Everest climbing season ended. The weather window for climbing opened through May 18-25 this season.

Sherchan had applied for a royalty waiver and sought financial aid from the government on the last week of March.

Sherchan returned from the Everest Base Camp on Tuesday as weather conditions were not favourable for the old man to climb Everest, said Ang Tshiring Sherpa, chairman of Asian Trekking. “His climbing bid failed not due to the weather, but the delay in issuing the climbing permit.”

Sherchan had scaled the peak on May 25, 2008 at the age of 76 years and 340 days and was officially recognised as the oldest to climb the mountain by the Guinness World Records in November 2009.

He held the record until last week, when 80-year-old Japanese climber, Yuichiro Miura, scaled the mountain.

Messner rues Everest brawl

Reinhold Messner, the Italian who was the first person to reach Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen, has termed European climbers involved in the Everest brawl “parasites.”

“Sherpas fix ropes and ladders for hundreds of Everest aspirants and when anyone go up without ropes and claim to be special are parasites,” he said at the Everest Diamond Jubilee celebrations at the British Embassy in Kathmandu.

As the climbing season began this year, mountaineers Ueli Steck of Switzerland and Italian Simone Moro, along with a British photographer, had a fight with a group of high-altitude Sherpas over climbing rights.