You May Have to Submit Proof of Physical Fitness Before Climbing Everest

Aug 15, 2019

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Following one of Mount Everest’s most deadly seasons to date, Nepali officials may now require aspiring mountaineers to provide proof of physical fitness prior to climbing.

In the 2019 hiking season, there have so far been 11 deaths reported on the slopes of the world’s highest peak — nine of which were caused specifically by “traffic jams” on the summit due to overcrowding. Ralf Dujmovits, a German climber who reached the summit in 1992 and has ascended more than 26,000 feet up the 29,029-ft mountain on six other occasions, told the BBC that long lines on the mountain can be dangerous. “When people have to wait in queues, they risk running short of oxygen — and may not have enough oxygen left on their way down,” he said.

Overcrowding has also been linked to an influx of trash and waste. The Tibetan base camp was so inundated with trash (one report even stated there was “a startling amount” of human feces) that it had to close for the 2019 season.

Proof of fitness is just one aspect of a proposal by Nepali officials and members of the mountaineering community written in hopes of slowing crowds coming to Mount Everest. The BBC reported that the panel has also proposed a fee of at least $35,000 to climb Everest and $20,000 for other Himalayan mountains taller than 26,247 feet. Currently, it costs about $11,000 to acquire a summit permit, with fully-fitted expeditions running from $35,000 to well over $100,000. That seemingly arbitrary 26,247-ft cutoff makes sense in metric: It’s 8,000 meters, and there are only 14 mountains in the world above that threshold. Most are in Nepal.  

Applicants may also be required to climb a Nepali peak of at least 21,325 feet (6,500 m) before attempting to summit Everest. 

5 Peaks You Can Climb Without Waiting in Line on Mount Everest

“We will take this forward by amending the laws and regulations. We will make our mountains safe, managed and dignified,” Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattari told the BBC.

In 2018, Nepal was one of the poorest countries in the world with a GDP of about $918 per capita. The economy relies heavily on the tourism industry, which brings in about $300 million in revenue every year. The Associated Press reported Nepal’s tourism board did not have any plans to restrict the number of Mount Everest summit permits — and this year, a record number of 381 permits were issued by the Nepali Government.

Featured image by Westend61 via Getty Images.

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