Pokhara, October 13
A year after a deadly blizzard claimed as many as 43 foreign trekkers, Nepali guides and their support team in the Annapurna Trekking route, half-a-dozen shelters and two new check posts have been established for the safety of trekkers.
Many foreign trekkers and their Nepali guides and other support staff lost their lives due to the avalanche and deadly wind caused by the Hudhud storm in Thorangla Pass area of Manang and Mustang districts.
More than 500 people are said to have suffered injuries and more than eight persons are yet to come into contact. Besides, a large number of people and their property as well as other infrastructure were also affected in Myagdi, Kaski, Gorkha and Dolpa districts.
Lack of weather forecast, unavailability of shelters, foreign tourists trekking without proper guides etc were said to be the causes behind the huge loss.
Keeping in view these factors, Annapurna Conservation Area Project is setting up two check posts in Muktinath area of Mustang district, as per ACAP headquarters Pokhara director Lal Prasad Gurung.
According to Gurung, the check posts will be keep information of trekkers and they will be given a weeklong weather forecast besides information about the trekking route. Data on Nepali visitors will also be kept at the post in Manang. “Some shelters have been established in the route,” said hotelier Binod Gurung of Manang.
“How many people were trekking and how many of them disappeared and how many died is still beyond anybody’s knowledge due to lack of proper information about trekkers and their supporters. The 15km round route from Manang’s Thorangpas to Mustang’s Muktinath is said to be the toughest one, where there is no human settlement. It had caused lots of hurdles in rescue operation during the blizzard. It takes more than 10 hours to cross the trail. There was not a single shelter on that section, as a result of which dozens of trekkers lost their lives in the calamity last year,” said Deepak Raj Adhikari, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) western Regional Association, Pokhara’s first Vice-chairman.
ACAP, run under National Nature Conservation Fund, collects around Rs 170 million revenue from the tourist entry fee in the region per year. Voices were being raised that some chunk of the revenue should also be invested for safety of tourists. Similarly, TAAN and Nepal Tourism Board collected around Rs 160 millions from Trekkers’ Information Management System from foreign tourists last year. Hence, heated arguments were raised against ACAP, TAAN and Nepal Tourism Board as they had not put in place safety measures.
The 215 km trekking trail that took 21 days to build has been shortened to a week’s walk with the round trail route.
ACAP, which formally started from Kaski’s Ghandruk in 1986 as a test route has been extended to 55 VDCs comprising 7,629 square km area of Kaski, Lamjung, Myagdi, Manang and Mustang districts now.
A version of this article appears in print on October 14, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.