Nepal bans solo, disabled climbers from scaling Mount Everest

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 30, 2017 at 12:28 PM
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Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Nepal has banned solo climbers, double amputees and blind people from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest.

The Council of Ministers also voted Friday to bar boys and girls younger than 16 years old from obtaining climbing permits.

Foreign climbers will have to be accompanied by a guide under new regulations of the Tourism Act. And leaders, mountain guides and high-altitude workers who accompany expeditions to the top of the climbing peaks will need summit certificates.

A tourism official said the laws were changed to make mountaineering safer after a record six climbers trying to scale Everest this year died. Min Bahadur Sherchan, an 85-year-old attempting to reclaim the title of world's oldest person to reach the summit died in May.

A proposal to limit the age to 76 was not implemented.

American Hari Budha Magar, who lost both his legs when he was deployed in Afghanistan, posted on Facebook on Dec. 6 the planned regulations at the time were "discriminatory" and an "injustice."

"I will be climbing Mt. Everest whatever the cabinet decides. Nothing Is Impossible," he wrote.

Magar has climbed Nepal's 21,247-foot Mera peak while training for Mount Everest, according to U.S.-based Myrmidon Expeditions, which was planning an expedition for Magar.

Alaina B. Teplitz, who is the U.S. ambassador to Nepal, posted on Twitter earlier this month: "Ability not perceived 'disability' must guide rules on who can trek Mt. Everest. Climbers like Hari Budha Magar shouldn't be banned because of false assumptions about capabilities. Accessible tourism for all will make it clear that Nepal welcomes everyone!"

Twenty-nine people with disabilities have attempted to climb Everest, according to the Himalayan Database. Fifteen have reached the summit and two have died on the mountain -- Phur Yemba Sherpa in 2014 and Thomas Weber in 2006.

"So what constituents a disability or who is 'proven medically unfit for climbing?,' " Arnette wrote on his blog. "If this is about protecting people from their own ambitions, then over half of the annual climbers should be banned each year as they lack the experience to safely climb Everest. And where does this stop -- people with asthma, diabetes, hemophiliacs or cancer? All of these have recently successfully summited Everest with no problems."

He noted no one younger than the age of 18 has died on Everest and the youngest person to reach the summit was American Jordan Romero, 13, on May 23, 2010.

Ueli Steck, known as the "Swiss Machine" died in April when he slipped and fell from a steep ridge while on a solo acclimatization climb to Nuptse, a peak neighboring Everest.

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