After Everest debacle, LOs fail to show up at Mt Manaslu base camp

KATHMANDU : The autumn climbing season has begun, but it has not brought any difference to Nepal's tourism and mountaineering industry as far as negligence of the government officials is concerned.

More than 100 climbers have already headed to the higher camps on the Mt Manaslu (8,163 m), the world’s eighth highest peak, in western Nepal. None of the 18 liaison officers, however, has reached the base camp yet, according to expedition organisers.

Pasang Sherpa, who has been staying at the base camp since last three weeks, told THT Online that the teams have not met any LOs at the base camp till today. “Most of the climbers have left for higher camps as the rope fixing Sherpas opened climbing route yesterday,” he said.

Earlier in the last spring season, 50 government officers among 58 LOs assigned to accompany the expedition teams had failed to serve the climbers on Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Nuptse as per the country’s mountaineering regulation.

The LOs assigned for expeditions in Mt Dhaulagiri and other peaks have not accompanied the climbers. “The negligence is all because of the impunity,” an expedition organiser opined.

According to Mingma Sherpa, most of the acclimatised climbers have headed to the higher camps as they plan to make their summit attempts in a day or two. “But, it depends how the weather unfolds.”

The LOs charged each Everest expedition nearly USD 3,000 and other expedition teams USD 2000. They, however, made mockery of the Tourism Act, which clearly states that every officer must accompany the team for the period commencing from the date of departure for mountaineering expedition to the date of arriving after completion of mountaineering, by not accompanying them.

Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, Director General at the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation admitted that there was a sheer negligence on part of the LOs.

“I am aware of the issue that none wants to accompany the expeditions,” he said. According to him, theirs is an urgent need to review the existing procedures of deploying LOs.

Non-gazetted first class or above class officers of civil service, Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police officials corresponding to the level of civil service gazetted third class, and Nepali mountaineers who have successfully climbed Mt Everest and recommended by the mountaineering association designated by the Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation are eligible to become liaison officers. The trend of rules violation would continue until the government mechanism failed to strictly implement its reward and punishment measures.

According to DoT, there are 18 teams comprising of 151 climbers on Mt Manaslu in the autumn season.

“Among 360 persons – climbers, high altitude Sherpas and support staff – reached Manaslu base camp,” DoT official Gyanendra Shrestha said adding that 58 were Chinese climbers.

According to him, the DoT has issued climbing permits to different 67 teams with around 490 climbers as they along with their support staff headed towards different expedition peaks in the autumn season.