Pune: Blaming “over-crowding” during Mount Everest expeditions for the deaths of some Indians in recent past, a mountaineers’ organisation Monday demanded that number of permits issued by the Nepal government to climbers be restricted. The demand by the Akhil Maharashtra Giryarohan Mahasangh (AMGM), the apex body of mountaineers’ organisations in the state, came in the wake of deaths of eight Indian climbers due to reported “overcrowding” at the world’s highest peak.
“The AMGM is planning to write a letter to the Indian Embassy in Nepal, requesting it to ask Nepal tourism department to bring some restrictions on the permits issued to the mountaineers, check the qualification of mountaineers and provide basic rescue and medical facilities at the base-camps to avoid untoward incidents during the summit,” said its president Umesh Zirpe. Majority of deaths occurred while scaling down the peak. He said in a traffic jam, exhausted climbers are often forced to wait for several hours for their turn to ascend or descend on a single rope, increasing chances of breathlessness, exhaustion, frostbite or altitude sickness.
Climbers could also run out of oxygen during the final phase of the ascent. “To issue a permit to climb the mountain, $11,000 are being charged by Nepal Tourism Department, however, while issuing these permits, the department does not pay any heed to the fact that how many climbers should be allowed at one point of time,” said Zirpe who is an expedition leader of a mountaineering club. He rued the fact that there are no restrictions on the number of climbers.
“If you see, only a two-week clear weather window is available in the entire year and to catch that window, everybody rushes to Nepal,” he said. “Above the height of 8000 meters, there is a minus temperature, oxygen level goes down to hardly one to two per cent and climbers have to climb using supplementary oxygen which has limited stock. If the situation like traffic jam of climbers occur, the climbers have to halt and when they halt, there is the danger of oxygen stock getting over. This was the key reason behind some of the deaths that had happened recently, he said, adding that all these people died just because of “human mistakes”.
“This year, to catch the clear weather window of May 21, more than 270 people went to climb and due to havoc, a lot of people had to suffer health complications and at lest 8 Indians died,” he said, adding that many mountaineers who want to scale the world’s highest peak lack proper training.