Under mounting pressure and criticism over human safety and environmental impact, Nepalese tourism officials have now banned novice climbers from attempting the arduous climb that is Mount Everest and are considering a variety of additional limits.
Over the past twenty to thirty years interest in attempting to climb Mount Everest grown, resulting in hundreds of ascent attempts each year. What was once the purview of the experienced climber became an accessible high-adventure holiday for novices—many inexperienced climbers simply hired guides to help them to the top.
Climbers complain that the novices aren’t up to the task, while environmentalists worry about the impact of thousands of climbers and their garbage left behind on the mountain.
Last year, Nepal began requiring climbers to pack out their own waste plus 18 additional pounds of garbage. But critics have said the rule is difficult to enforce.
Now, the country has banned climbers who have not previously reached the peak of at least one 6,500-meter (21,325-foot) mountain. This will discourage less-experienced climbers who critics say pose a safety threat to themselves and others.
Nepalese tourism officials are also considering setting minimum and maximum age limits for climbers, and rejecting those who are visually or physically disabled.
Balancing safety, environmental impact and tourism considerations is a delicate act for Nepal, which receives substantial income from Western tourists who come to climb the country’s many mountains.