Sherpas denied summit certificates

Kathmandu, July 14

The government has deprived more than 300 Sherpas, who successfully scaled mountains, including the world’s highest peak, during the last climbing season, of summit certificates.

The Department of Tourism, under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, has refused to award high-altitude workers summit certificates, citing a clause of the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation that bars them from obtaining government certificates.

“The regulation mentions that the ministry shall provide a certificate of mountaineering expedition to the expedition and the members of the successful expedition and not to the Sherpas, who accompany climbers from across the world to the top of mountains,” Laxman Sharma, Director at DoT’s Mountaineering Section, told THT.

He said DoT couldn’t issue certificates to Sherpas as per the existing law, claiming that high-altitude workers are not considered a part of the expedition as per the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation that was framed in 2002. “The regulation considers only those who obtain climbing permit by paying royalty to the government as members of an expedition.”

This is the first time in the country’s mountaineering history that Sherpas have failed to obtain government certificates despite successfully scaling mountains.

Though 200 expedition members, including 199 foreigners from 29 countries representing 34 teams, and 256 Sherpas scaled Mt Everest this season after nine rope-fixing Sherpas first stood atop the mountain on May 11, DoT has only issued certificates to expeditions and their members.

“It’s really a sad moment,” said one of the nine rope-fixing Sherpas who first stood atop Mt Everest last season, adding that such negligence on part of government hurt the mountaineering sector dominated by the Sherpa community. “All of us consider it a ploy to undermine Sherpas’ role in the mountain tourism,” he added.

“Not only on Mt Everest, other Sherpas who guided climbers to all peaks above 6,500 metres, can’t be given summit certificates,” Sharma said. According to him, the department has initiated the process to amend the regulation. “The amendment may ensure the Sherpas’ right to government certificates for their successful summit,” he said.

But Sherpas had been getting certificates from DoT for their successful ascent of Mt Everest that recorded nearly 4,428 summits by 2014. “Of these, over 2,500 summit records belong to Sherpas.”

DoT officials, including Director Sharma, refused to comment on the fate of the certificates that were issued to Sherpas till 2015 for successful summit.