08/03/2013, 00.00
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Environment and safety, Kathmandu strengthens controls on Everest

The Nepalese government wants to monitor the highest peak in the world" more carefully". Controls on expeditions, climbing and tourist flow. A team of officials stationed at base camp set up for the first time. A necessary measure after episodes of violence and environmental damage in recent months.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - After the recent incidents of violence and devastation that have characterized much of the Everest and the Himalayas, from next year Kathmandu intends to monitor expeditions, climbing and the tourist flow "more carefully". For the first time in fact, the authorities of Nepal government will station a team base camp with the task of "strengthening surveillance," directing the "traffic" of climbers and tourists, coordinating rescue operations and ensuring "more protection" to the environmental ecosystem. The decision follows a series of incidents - Islamist violence, pollution, disputes between Sherpas and climbers - during the past few months, which have cast a shadow on the world's most famous mountain range.

So far, the regulations stipulated that teams wanting to climb on the world's highest peak had to contract a state employee to coordinate with authorities for the duration of the expedition. However, this method is of little use as often the official never even leaves his or her office in Kathmandu and there is nobody to monitor transport to the base camp or the climbing process.

With the new norm, the Ministry of Tourism intends to "regulate activities on the mountain", facilitating the task of the climbers "offering security services and better means of communication" and liaising with the authorities. After all experts have repeatedly pointed out the difficulty of coordinating the procedures from the Nepalese capital, while securing "a speedy punishment in case of violation of the law".

Officials and experts also hope for a better control of mountain climbers and sports addicts who try to establish "bizarre" records like "strip shows" at the summit or other similar incidents. Now they will have to present their program well in advance - to obtain any permit - and announce the record they aim to beat. Government officials interviewed by the BBC, add this is also an attempt to restore "dignity to Everest."

"The idea of ​​regulating access to the mountain through a government team at base camp" is "great", underlined mountain climb operators, even though there are still unresolved issues to be verified. It is a first step, but more need to follow to prevent Sherpa aggression towards climbers, as happened last April to Italian Simone Moro, and again, to honor the 60th anniversary of the conquest of the mountain by preserving the ecosystem, after the recent alarms that it has turned into a "dumping ground". And then the security issues along the whole mountain chain, as highlighted by the Taliban assault on Nanga Parbat, during which 11 climbers were killed in the first attack ever against mountaineers.


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