The Department of Tourism (DoT) has started distribution of expedition permits for the upcoming spring season.

According to the department, it has so far issued expedition permits for spring season to five expedition teams from Nepal and India to scale four mountains.

Any expedition team that is seeking permits before the season starts is required to submit an online application and fee to the department. According to the department, 12 people from four expedition teams of India and three people from one team in Nepal have received prior climbing approval so far. Five climbers have received permits to climb Mt Everest, four for Mt Nuptse, two for Mt Lhotse, and four for Mt Pumori.

As tourism activities are gradually normalising, the winter expedition went relatively well according to the officials, even though the number of climbers was not as high as during the normal times. The department expects the number of climbers to rise further this spring season.

The spring expedition season of 2021 begins from March 20.

The spring season is the most preferable time for mountaineering in Nepal.

The government levies a charge of $11,000 per person for foreign climbers for expeditions to Mt Everest during the spring season, while Nepali climbers have to pay Rs 75,000 per person.

For other mountains above 8,000 metres, the government levies a fee of $1,800 on foreigners and Rs 10,000 for Nepali climbers. Till date, the government has opened 415 peaks for mountaineering expeditions, of which 91 are virgin peaks.

The government has set some protocols for mountaineering to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection. Following the protocols the department is issuing the permits. The department has said the climbers will be required to strictly follow all health measures during the expedition period. The department as well as the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation have set a health safety protocol for trekkers and mountaineers.

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