In view of the 'traffic jams' of climbers attempting to scale the highest peak, Mt Everest, during the spring season in the recent years, the government has set a quota system to reduce congestion on the route.

The Department of Tourism (DoT) has issued a notice today stating that new arrangements have been made to manage the spring climbing of 2021 and to reduce the risk of the deadly coronavirus infection from spreading on the climbing route.

According to the department, a person who has obtained permission to climb Mt Everest will be able to start climbing from the date of rope fixing by the Icefall Doctors, depending on the favourable weather. In the first phase, the climbers and teams who have obtained permissions through climbing permit numbers 6, 7, 9, 14, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 34, 36, 37 and 38 will be able to go for the expedition.

Similarly, after their return, the climbers with the permission numbers 40, 41, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 55, 57, 59, 62, 63, 67 and 68 will be allowed to scale Mt Everest.

The department hopes that this will help reduce traffic congestion which is caused by all climbers lining up to summit the mountain at the same time.

Likewise, climbers who have obtained permit number 72 and above will go for expedition depending on the favourable weather.

The concerned agencies have to manage the expeditions to ensure that the number of climbers on the route do not exceed 170 people at any given time through mutual consent and coordination.

In case of any change in plans, the local climbing management agency has to manage the safe ascent of the climbers, reads the notice.

Nepal had made headlines in the climbing season of 2019 for the congestion of climbers attempting to scale various mountains, including Mt Everest. Nepal was also criticised for adding to the security challenges. "The department believes that the risk will be reduced as only 170 people will be on the ascent route at a time after the last leg of the climb," states the notice.

The department has also warned the climbers not to stray from their group while travelling on the permitted mountain climbing route, staying in the base camp and on the higher routes. The guides have to urge the climbers not to cause unnecessary congestion on the route.

Meanwhile, tourists who want to climb two mountains in the same season this year have to undergo PCR tests after returning from one mountain. Tourists will be allowed to climb another mountain only if they get a negative report in the PCR test. Provision has also been made to inform the department and the tourism police unit if any tourist needs to be searched and rescued during the ascent.

As per DoT, 659 mountaineers from 74 groups have taken expedition permits to climb 16 mountains till Tuesday. Of them, 371 people from 39 groups have taken permission for Mt Everest. Of them, 87 are women.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.