KATHMANDU: After two months since the world climbers returned from the Mt Manaslu expedition, the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has resumed the issuance of summit certificates by authenticating their successful summits of the world’s eighth highest peak.
Mountaineering section chief at DoT, Indiresh Dahal, said that all Manaslu climbers could receive the government certificates now onwards after submitting a few documents as other climbers did in the past. It means that the climbers who claimed to have summitted the Mt Manaslu by avoiding the main summit point (8,163 m) in the autumn climbing season can also be eligible for the government papers.
Since mid-November, the DoT had halted the certificate distribution after THT disclosed that most of the climbers claimed of having summitted the peak without reaching the main summit point.
“Any climber can now collect the certificates by presenting a summit photo and three letters – one each from respective liaison officer, expedition leader and the trekking agency,” Dahal said referring to a provision of the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation–2002.
The Regulation states: The ministry shall provide a certificate of mountaineering expedition to the team and the members of such team for successful expedition in the format as prescribed in schedule 13.
“The DoT has already issued summit certificates to a few climbers authenticating their claims of reaching to the summit point at 8,163 metres on Mt Manslu, in the last two days,” an officer, who failed to give the details, said. “However, the DoT does not have the actual data of total Manaslu summiteers in the last autumn season till date.”
Summit certificates on sale!
As the liaison officers of the respective expeditions charged more than USD 2,000, and did not accompany the members to the mountain, the government officers were obliged to recognise their summit claims though whether the climbers made it to the main summit point was questionable, a DoT official admitted, “Summit certificates on sale!”
The DoT does not have any mechanism or technology to verify their claims, he added.
Expedition organisers claimed that over 150 climbers, including foreigners and Sherpas, stood atop the peak on September 30 and October 1 while 90 per cent of the climbers, however, did not stand atop the main summit point.
Russell Brice, the team leader for an 11-member Himalayan Experience Manaslu Expedition shared in his official newsletter that nobody actually reached the true summit of Mt Manaslu this season.
“And before our teams left the Camp IV to go to the summit, we asked if they (rope fixing team members) had fixed ropes to the main summit and they told us that they had…so we never took any extra rope. But, in fact, they had not fixed to ropes to the main summit. They fixed to the final ridge…but not to the main summit,” he stated in the newsletter.
According to him, climbers had not reached the main summit for the second year in a row.
“So in fact for the second year in a row…. nobody actually reached the true summit of Mt Manaslu despite Seven Summits making big claims that so many of their members and Sherpas reached the summit of Mt Manaslu… they lied and none of their members reached the summit. Nor did anyone else,” the experienced mountaineer and expedition leader who has been guiding in the Himalayas since 1974 further shared.
Climbers admitted that it was tough to reach to the main summit at the altitude of 8,163 metres as the point is quite tiny and can accommodate only two persons at a time.
No control over mountains?
The DoT Director Durga Datta Dhakal also admitted that the government has lost its control over mountains. “Activities in the Himalayas are beyond our control,” he told THT Online.
A DoT official also recounted several instances ranging from Chinese climber Wang Jing’s Everest summit claim to authorisation of the doctored photographs of Indian police climbers saying that such activities were the result of impunity and corruption in the government mechanisms. This year’s Manaslu case presented a win-win situation for all – the government officials, commercial expedition organisers and climbers, he quipped.
According to the DoT record, Russell Brice, Suguru Takano, Alvaro Sebestian Aldana, Johann Goger, Sangho Lee, Cipcigan Vasile, Guillermo Benegas, Kenichi Kubu, Sean Joseph David James, Une Kristin Groenstein Prestholt, Okcha Oxana Mopheba and Arnold Coster among others led the expeditions to Mt Manslu in the autumn season.
The DoT had deputed the government officials including Naba Raj Jaisi, Dhyan Kumar Rai, Jiwan Chandra Rai, Iswori Dhakal, Om Prakash Devkota, Tek Narayan Paudel, Ram Prasad Sapkota, Sachindra Kumar Yadav, Indiresh Dahal, Jiwan Acharya, Deepak Koirala, Chandra Prasad Phuyal, Rekha Pandey, Padma Shrestha, Ramesh Adhikari, Khem Raj Aryal and Narayan Dahal as the liaison officers on Mt Manaslu.
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