Sherpas protest at Everest base camp, demand summit certificates

Kathmandu, May 2

Hundreds of sherpa climbers who met at Mt Everest base camp today asked the government to immediately issue their summit certificates. Sherpas decided to hold a protest meeting at base camp after they failed to obtain government certificates despite successfully scaling mountains.

A five-page memorandum sent to the Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and other stakeholders, including Nepal Mountaineering Association and Expedition Operators’ Association Nepal, states that hundreds of sherpa climbers need their certificates. “The government’s ignorance is highly deplorable and intolerable,” it adds.

Sherpa climbers who made it to the top of several peaks, including Mt Everest, have not been getting their summit certificates since last year after the government refused to approve their ascents citing a clause of the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation that bars them from obtaining such certificates. The existing regulation framed in 2002 considers only those who obtain climbing permit by paying royalty to the government as members of an expedition.

“We have decided to hold this gathering at the base camp to draw the government’s attention towards our demands,” Lhakpa Rangdu Sherpa, General Secretary of the Everest Summiteers’ Association, said. After the meeting, Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who holds the record for the fastest ascent of Mt Everest in eight hours and 10 minutes, said the government should immediately issue the summit certificates to all sherpas who successfully climbed the mountains.

For most of the foreign climbers, summiting a mountain without sherpas’ help is almost impossible in Nepal. The world mountaineering fraternity regards sherpas as the backbone of mountain climbing.

According to Da Gelje Sherpa of Expedition Himalaya, more than 400 sherpas reached Khumbu region this season to accompany the world climbers towards the top of the world. “Negligence on the part of the government has hurt the mountaineering sector dominated by the Sherpa community,” he added.

Gyanendra Shrestha, a liaison officer from the ministry, told THT over phone that the world climbers who had been training in Mt Everest region also supported the sherpas’ cause. “Sherpa climbers really feel neglected by the government,” Shrestha, who was also present in the meeting, added.

Dinesh Bhattarai, director general at the DoT, said he also received a call from the base camp today demanding summit certificates. “The ministry will expedite its process to amend the regulation,” he said. The government was committed to addressing the genuine concerns of sherpa climbers, he added. According to him, the new amendment to the regulation will recognise high-altitude workers as a part of the expedition to get certificates. Though 256 sherpas scaled Everest last spring season, DoT only issued certificates to expeditions and their members. Not only on Mt Everest, other sherpas who guided climbers to all peaks above 6,500 metres since 2016, have not been given summit certificates.