In an effort to thwart overcrowding, better safety and “maintain the glory” of Everest, the young, the old, the inexperienced and the disabled may no longer be allowed a shot at the Big E. Nepali officials announced on Monday that they will consider new permit restrictions for climbing Mount Everest.
“We cannot let everyone go on Everest and die. If they are not physically and mentally fit it will be like a legal suicide,” Kripasur Sherpa, minister of tourism in Nepal, said in an interview with the Guardian.
The new regulations would prohibit people below the age of 18 and above 75 from climbing the mountain, as well as the “disabled.”
“The disabled or visually impaired people usually need someone to carry them, which is not an adventure,” Kripasur Sherpa told the Guardian. “Only those who can go on their own will be given permission.”
How that will be implemented is unclear.
A third proposed requirement tackles experience: To obtain a permit for Everest, a climber would have to prove that he or she has summited a peak above 6,500 meters (21,325 feet). That leaves at least 159 mountains in world—starting with Taboche in Nepal, sneaking in at 6,501 meters—to stick on one’s resume.
“Such a rule is going to be introduced to maintain the glory of Everest,” Mohan Krishna Sapkota, acting secretary of the ministry of tourism, told the Guardian.
Height, however, not difficulty, is the only determining factor for experience that the Nepali government is considering. Aconcagua, a 6,961-meter (22,841 feet) peak in the Andes would fit the bill, even though its Normal Route can essentially be cruised in sneakers. Karl Egloff holds the Aconcagua speed at 11 hours 52 minutes.
While the new disability and age restrictions may not limit the number of climbers substantially, the experience requirement is a step in the right direction. Everest’s ever-growing popularity, despite recent disasters, has made overcrowding a major, and increasing, issue. Accidents are becoming more frequent and largely attributed to congestion and inexperience.
“In 2012, the deaths [of 10 climbers] were caused by taking non-experienced climbers up Everest,” Lakpa Rita, head Sherpa for Alpine Ascents, told Outside Magazine. “And people lost their lives because of it. They should have done this way earlier.”
[Read: Tipping Point on Everest]
In 2013, in response to the increasing number of deaths, the Nepali government began policing the world’s highest peak by "government mechanism" from its Integrated Service Center at base camp. The government institution became responsible for checking climbing permits and enforcing new regulations, such as restricted helicopter use—for rescue missions only—above base camp.
The three new permit requirements—age, experience and disability—have also been discussed since, but they were never put to action. “So I doubt this will be implemented,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, told the Guardian. “Earlier such plans were aborted because of pressure from human rights organizations and foreign embassies.”
Regardless, the mountain can always be climbed from the Tibetan side.