Kaji Rita Sherpa estimated a decline in the number of expeditions this season consequential to delayed guidelines publication from the authorities in relation to requirements of PCR testing and quarantine to cope up with the looming COVID-19 pandemic.
KATHMANDU, FEBRUARY 28
A 10-member team of icefall doctors left for the Mt Everest Base camp to fix a climbing route up to Camp II of the World's Highest Peak for the Spring season, this year, today.
The Icefall doctors are leaving for the clearing of the route after a gap of a year following the coronavirus pandemic that forced the closure of the spring season last year.
The team which includes seven icefall doctors, a base camp manager and two cooks is led by Ang Sarki Sherpa, informed Nishan Shrestha, an official at the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC).
The team will fix ladders, ropes in the treacherous icefall section of the climbing routes to begin the spring climbing season of Mt. Everest.
The team is the precursor of the season-opening for the world's top mountain, clearing the path for the later team of climbers that are planning to summit the peak this year.
The opening of the spring season this year is expected to herald a significant presence of climbers to Nepal route, giving a boost to mountain tourism in the country after the pandemic demolished the sector.
The record holder for summitting the Everest for a total of 24 times, Kami Rita Sherpa will attempt the Everest ascent this spring like many other mountaineering enthusiasts. Sherpa shared with THT that his team is currently preparing for the nearing climbing season. He said that currently, the necessary mountaineering gears and supplements are being transported to Syangboche.
President of the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal, Damber Parajuli too expressed his concerns over the delay from the authorities in formulating the required protocols in line with the pandemic for the arriving tourists. He said more the unclear stance of the government is stretched, the enthusiasm of the arriving tourists and adventure seekers will abate in the same magnitude, resulting in reduced numbers of tourists. "We have collectively submitted an application to the government to address the issue. However, we are still in limbo."
Although Kami Rita Sherpa seemed excited about the upcoming climbing season, he lamented that the government has yet not published guidelines or relevant Covid-19 protocols for mountaineering enthusiasts. "However, climbing permits are being issued."
Similarly, Sherpa estimated a decline in the number of expeditions this season consequential to delayed guidelines publication from the authorities in relation to requirements of PCR testing and quarantine to cope up with the looming COVID-19 pandemic.
He concluded that those tourists willing to come to Nepal for the spring trekking season too have been left in limbo, which could further reduce the number of arriving tourists in absence of any clarity from the authorities as to how the government plans to deal with the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile. the government authorities say that procedures have begun to address the concerns of the mountaineers and related bodies pertaining to the upcoming climbing season.
Director of Department of Tourism, Mira Acharya stated that at present, all the protocols which were brought into effect during the previous autumn season are operational. "Homework is undergoing at the policy level in full force to formulate Covid-19 protocols for tourism and mountaineering," Acharya told THT. "With knowledge of the plight of mountaineers, the new regulations will hopefully be in place before the beginning of the Spring season this year."