Nepal introduces photo restrictions on Everest to avoid controversies

Kathmandu, Mar 9 (efe-epa).- Nepal’s department of tourism on Tuesday issued a fresh rule for Everest climbers, which makes it necessary to seek authorization for sharing photographs including other mountaineers, in order to prevent controversial images like the one with a viral “traffic jam” on the peak in 2019.

On May 22, 2019, more than 200 climbers made the push to summit Mt Everest (8,848.86 meters), breaking the record for the highest number of ascents in a single days, but also forming a long queue with hours of waiting time at a narrow stretch just before a steep cliff near the summit.

The viral photo not just highlighted the popularity of the mountain, but also underlined the additional risks the climbers could be facing, as each minute on the mountain becomes important due to limited oxygen supply and approaching nightfall.

In 2012, four climbers had died due to exhaustion and mountain sickness after being stuck in a similar jam.

On Tuesday, authorities with immediate effect banned taking, making and sharing images and videos of “other climbers” without the consent of those who appear in them or the department of tourism, the sole Nepali agency authorized for issuing Everest climbing permits.

“Each climber can take, share and make images and videos of their group or of oneself but they will face action if they take, make and share photos of other climbers without consent of the department,” Mira Acharya, the director of the department, told EFE.

“We honour the personal freedom of climbers but that does not mean they can post images and videos of others without their consent. Either through commercial cameras or mobile sets, all such activities have been banned,” she added, tightening earlier norms, which already included some restrictions.

However, the former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association Ang Tsering Sherpa told EFE that it could be difficult to control the spread of images, as the latest technology provided immediate and innovative access.

“You make a click here, your photo is (all) around the world at a go,” he said.

The new rules, which includes around 10 other norms, coincide with the beginning of the important spring season, when the mountaineers begin to acclimatize to conditions before launching their Everest campaigns in May.

Another measure seeks to prevent fake climbing certificates to unscrupulous mountaineers, who have in the past forged photos of the ascent and paid corrupt officials to certify them.

Now, the organizers of the expedition would need to prepare a detailed report with the particulars of the climb and present it to the department of tourism, while the liaison officer of the government in charge of supervising the climbers would prepare their own report.

“This provision will make the expedition agency and the liaison officer more accountable towards their responsibilities,” said Acharya.

Moreover, according to the new norms, all the mountaineers seeking a permit to climb Everest would need to present a medical report proving that they are physically fit to climb the world’s tallest peak.

“It’s a report, a proof to ensure that a person is physically and mentally fit to climb,” said the director, explaining the rule as a step to prevent untoward incidents.

In 2019, Nepal earned around $4 million by just issuing permits to climb Everest, although the surging popularity has also led to more deaths, with at least nine climbers losing their life in 2018 and 10 perishing a year later. EFE-EPA


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