Mess on mountains: 90 pc liaison officers don't go to camps

KATHMANDU: Nepali government officials who are deputed to monitor the mountaineering expeditions in the autumn climbing season have yet again breached the country’s Tourism Act and the Mountaineering Regulations as they failed to accompany the world climbers during the entire expedition period.

The list of liaison officers obtained by THT Online shows that 43 officers ranging from non-gazetted first class level to under-secretary positions have been assigned to facilitate the world climbers attempting to climb different peaks in the season.

Interestingly, 90 per cent of the LOs never reach base camps of the respective mountains to monitor climbing activities.

“Only four officials arrived here for a day or two at the base camp of Mt Manaslu,” a base camp official said. According to them, over 150 foreigners and high altitude workers have already summitted the mountain without seeing their LOs throughout the expedition period this autumn.

There were 17 teams comprising 151 foreign climbers along with their over 200 climbing Sherpas on the Mt Manaslu this season.


Gross violation of law

The Tourism Act clearly states that every liaison 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 expedition and the Mountaineering Regulations mentions that LOs must stay in the base camp during the mountaineering expedition programme.

“But, the majority of LOs blatantly breached the regulations,” Director General at the Department of Tourism Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal admitted.

Without even making it to the Everest base camp, the 15 liaison officers were also found to have attested climbers as eligible for summit certificates in the last spring season while six LOs returned the same day and five stayed for two to four days at the Everest base camp.

An official from the DoT, three security personnel and two from Everest Summiteers Association, however, stayed at the base camp for over two weeks, according to a record maintained by base camp officials.

Over 80 per cent of the LOs who had never shown up on the mountains, however, had claimed of having stayed at the base camp for over one to three weeks in order to prohibit the expedition teams or their members from indulging in any unauthorised activities when they filled up the expedition form during the debriefing.

Till when?

“The trend of violating rules would continue until the government mechanism failed to strictly implement its reward and punishment measures,” he repeatedly said.

The LOs charge each Everest expedition nearly USD 3,000 and other expedition team USD 2,000. “All of the LOs have been already paid for their services in the autumn season,” foreign climbers reacted.

"It has been an established practice for many years and we were not the exception," an officer who stayed in Kathmandu without accompanying his team to the Mt Manaslu told THT Online.

“Being an LO is by luck, not by performance,” he said. According to him, there was always an unhealthy competition among the officials as most of them needed to knock the doors of ministers, political leaders and even the Prime Minister to get listed in the LO roster.

Officers of the non-gazetted first class or above from civil service and Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel corresponding to the level of civil service gazetted third class and Nepali mountaineers who have successfully climbed the Mt Everest and been recommended by the mountaineering association designated by the Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation are eligible to become liaison officers.

But no complain?

When asked, the expedition organisers said that they could not complain against the liaison officers as they wanted to avoid any further hassle that they would have to face in the government offices.

“If complained, they will certainly target us on different occasions ranging from issuance of climbing permits to summit certificates,” a senior manager of a trekking agency said, adding that their noncooperation would adversely affect the businesses.

While the government may cancel travel orders and may force them to return the facilities received as per its Regulations from the LOs if they do not accompany the mountaineering expedition team, the Director General reluctantly responded that it was impossible to take such action against them. He, however, declined to furnish the reasons.

“It is all because of the negligence, the major output of impunity,” an official at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said.

Liaison Officers – Spring 2016

Mt Everest

Durga Datta Dhakal

Dola Raj Dhakal

Sontash Moktan

Nagendra Dhungel

Gopal Bhattarai

Bina Shrestha

Shiva Ranajan Poudel

Tanka Bhattarai

Saroj Pokharel

Gyanendra Kumar Shrestha

Rama Gautam

Khada Nanda Adhikari

Krishna Lamsal

Mukta Baskota Sherpa

Gopal Bhandari

Narendra Raj Thapa

Pramod Nepal

Gita Parajuli

Jhalak Subedi

Sabin Dhakal

Laxmi Sharma

Tika Ram Pandey

Ratna Bahadur Katuwal

Shekhar Babu Karki

Ang Pasang Sherpa

Ram Prasad Bhushal

Ganesh Bahadur Katuwal

Lila Raj Shrestha

Vinod Gautam

Pawan Kumar Ghimire

Lekha Paneru Mahat

Rajesh Maharjan

Ganesh Prasad Timilsena

Mt Lhotse

Nagendra Prasad Rokka

Risiram Dawadi

Sudip Thapa

Sarada Shivakoti

Narayan Bahadur Thapa

Bhim Prasad Panthi

Suman Pandit

Namarta Chudal

Shiva Bahadur Sapkota

Tek Raj Bhusal

Shree Prasad Poudel

Mt Nuptse

Amba Datta Joshi

Juanendra Pun

Tulasi Nath Gautam

Rosani Karki

Sudip Sing Sunar

Nanga Dorji Shrepa

Narbada Shrestha

Rajendra Kumar Shrestha

Mt Manaslu

Hari Dhakal

Subarna Raj Bhattarai

Deepak Kumar Dahal

Mt Makalu I

Mukesh Dangol

Ram Kumar Gautam

Bheshraj Ghimire

Santi Devi Dahal

Radha Sharma Bhattarai

Mt Dhaulagiri I

Laxman Sharma

Khayam Bahadur Thapa

Durga Basnet

Tulsi Ram Bhandari

Mt Annapurna (I, III & IV)

Rajendra Raj Dhakal

Manoj Kumar Pokharel

Rishiram Bhandari

Khim Lal Gautam

Subir Shrestha

Mt Amadablam

Nima Kumari Dhital

Dhruba Poudel

Shree Krishna Khatri

Tukuche Peak

Narayan Bahadur Kuwar

Deepak Ghimire

Purushotam Acharya

Sandeep Khanal

Other Peaks

Ranajana Prajapati

Rajan Prasad Pokharel

Padam Bhandari

Bishnu Kumari Bhattarai