Future of Climbing in Nepal: New Mountains and Tighter Controls


Of the 14 peaks above 8000 meters currently recognized by the UIAA, 8 lie within Nepal. Perhaps realizing the amount of money to be made from mountaineering tourism or for fueling new adventure and traffic relief, Nepal recently proposed to officially add 5 more peaks to that list. 

As a bit of a hiccup for Nepal's quest, both India and Pakistan could not definitively agree on the matter at the UIAA annual meeting last month, even though the Nepalese claim support from China. After winning international recognition for the new 8000 meter peaks, Nepal hopes to open several smaller peaks in the future, making the country a high altitude climbing powerhouse. 

The five proposed new peaks are: Kanchenjunga Center (8,473 meters), Kanchenjunga South (8,476 meters), both on the Nepal-India border, Kanchenjunga West (Yalung Kang- 8,505 meters), fully within Nepal, and finally Lhotse Shar (8,400 meters) and Lhotse Middle ( 8,413), both on the Nepal-China border. 

What will this do to all of those who have already climbed the 14 tallest peaks, both with and without oxygen? Will Reinhold Messner or Edurne Pasaban come back to complete another 5? Nepalese officials say that the addition of the new 8000 meter peaks should not challenge records set by past climbers. If someone wants to climb the 14 highest mountains, they must still climb the original peaks (even though some of the new peaks are higher?). 

In yet another move that I am very intrigued to watch pan out, the Nepalese Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) announced they are going to crack down on the growing trend of bizarre record setting on Nepal's mountains. "Of late, mountaineering has been much glamorized with the climbers desiring to set absurd records which calls for government intervention," proclaimed Purna Chandra Bhattarai, joint secretary at MoCTCA.

The new policy will make it mandatory for climbers to announce beforehand if they plan to set any records on a specific mountain. The policy will also introduce a number of defined categories eligible for setting records, with everything else being immediately rejected. Wonder if your record for first tweet from the summit of Everest will still stand, Eric?

Interesting times indeed in Nepal. I would love to hear the thoughts of the climbing community on these latest developments. 

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