Nepal Himalaya issues being addressed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association
Delegates at the UAAA Meeting in Hong Kong (Photo: NMA for UIAA)
Editor’s Note: UIAA Honorary Member Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has filed a report touching on a number of meetings and issues related to climbing and mountaineering in the Nepal Himalaya.
From Ang Tshering Sherpa:
I, as a President Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and Vice President of UAAA headed the three-member Nepalese delegation to attend the UAAA (Asian Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) Council meeting and other side meetings. The Nepalese delegation members were:
- Mr. Ang Tshering Sherpa, President of NMA
- Mr. Rajendraman Shrestha, Secretary of NMA
- Mr. Tika Ram Gurung, Treasurer of NMA
During the meeting many questions were raised to our delegation such as the Mt. Everest incident in Spring 2014, commercial and non-commercial mountaineering and adventure tourism, traffic on Mt. Everest, fixing of ladder at the Hillary Step of Mt. Everest, garbage on Mt. Everest, impact of Climate Change and Global Warming in the high Himalayan regions and the threat of glacial lake outburst floods. To respond to these points, I as President of NMA and Honorary member of the UIAA addressed the gathering several times during the two day’s event.
A summary of my talk, reflecting the view of the Nepalese Delegation, is given below:
1. Everest Incident: Informed to the UAAA Council meeting, that an avalanche hit Khubu Icefall, near Camp 1 at the height of 5800m of Mt Everest on 18 April morning at 6:45 am, killing 13 mountaineers and 3 still missing. The avalanche came sweeping from the Khumbu Icefall and hammered over the climbing Sherpas, who were heading to Camp I to carrying logistics, to set up camps and fix ropes for the climbers of different expedition teams.
The site is at an elevation of 5,800m, in between the base camp and Camp I. NMA’s Executive Board Member Dorje Khatri also died in the same incident. All the Nepalese climbers died and missing in the avalanche are equal for Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and we don’t want any climber to be ignored in the course of receiving financial assistance. It is also worthwhile to mention that Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has already decided to give us the responsibility to look after the management of education of the children of the deceased mountaineers. That is why we are in the process of creating basket fund for the support of surviving members. Hence we have created an account named Mountaineering Disaster Relief and Educational Support Fund, briefly called MDRES Fund, in which donations received from all over the world will be deposited. The fund will be used for the support of children of mountaineers died not only on 18 April, but also for the children of deceased mountaineers, who may lose lives in future incident.
A committee is formed with following the members:
- Mr. Ang Tshering Sherpa – President NMA and Convener
- Mr. Santabir Lama – 1st VP NMA
- Mr. Deebas Bikram Shah – 2nd VP NMA
- Mr. Thakur Raj Pande – GS NMA
- Mr. Rajendra Shrestha – Secretary NMA
- Mr. Tika Ram Gurung – Treasurer NMA
- Chief of Mountaineering Section, Government of Nepal
- Miss. Chhurim Sherpa – Central Executive Member NMA
- Mr. Pertemba Sherpa – Renowned Mountaineer and Advisor NMA
- Dr. Nima Namgyal Sherpa – Convener- Medical and Rescue Committee, NMA
- Mr. Dawa Gyalgen Sherpa – Convener – Welfare Committee, NMA
- Mr. J.P. Lama – Member of NMA
- Mr. Pasang Dawa Sherpa – Member of NMA
- Associate Members:
- President, Trekking Agents Association of Nepal
- President, Expedition Operators Association of Nepal
- President, Himalayan Rescue Association
- Director, Nepal Tourism Board
- President, Nepal National Mountain Guide Association
- President, Nepal Mountaineering Instructor Association
The detail of the fund account number is mentioned below
Bank name: Nabil Bank Ltd
Address:Maharajgung, Kathmandu, Nepal
Name: NMA-MDRES FUND
A/c no: 1501017500227
Similarly, the ministry is also planning to handover NMA the management of few more peaks and from the income generated, certain amount of the fund will be used for MDRES FUND. These two decisions helped in the increment of our morale to request to all our concerned friends and association for the extension of their support for the welfare of families of Nepalese mountaineers.
It is worthwhile to mention that Seven Summits Actions for Sustainable Society (SSASS), Japan should be appreciated for its generous support for the surviving members of the climbers. Ken Noguchi, President of SSASS, who initiated and showed interest to support for the families, hence he committed to support of US $ 100,000: (One Hundred Thousand US Dollar) and Dr. Lee In-Jeung, President of UAAA’s contribution of US$ 3,200: (Three Thousand Two Hundred US Dollar).
We would like to extend our request to all the friend of Nepal to help in achieving our objective to take care of the families of deceased mountaineers, who may die during mountaineering in future.
In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that took the lives of 16 climbing Sherpas, I think many people around the world would be interested in learning more about the daily lives of the “fabled” Sherpas. It would also be very good to show the human side of Sherpa; that they aren’t just machines that climb mountains; that they too have hopes, fears, and aspirations. The century long reputation of the entire Sherpa community’s hard work, dedication, deliberation, honesty, courage and sacrifices for the sake of putting so many climbers on the top of Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks will remain forever.
2. Scholarship and financial support for the children of deceased mountaineers of Everest accident 2014: After series of consecutive MDRES Fund Committee meetings held at NMA, the committee identified 31 children from the Mount Everest Avalanche Victims of 18 April 2014. It was decided that Nepal Mountaineering Association will provide scholarship and financial support to children and students for the Bachelor Degree. Based on the meetings, the committee has decided to provide financial help of NRs. 5000: (five Thousand Rupees) per month to the child until Kinder Garden level – from this Nepalese fiscal year. Students from grade 1-5 will be provided NRs. 5000 (Five Thousand Rupees) per month, from grade 5-10 NRs. 7,000: (Seven Thousand Rupees) per month and for college students NRs.10, 000: (Ten Thousand Rupees) per month for this year. From next educational year, the committee decided to give full scholarship for studying at one of the best Boarding School and College in Kathmandu
3. Newly opened 104 Peaks including UAAA Peak: Recently the Government of Nepal opened 104 new peaks including UAAA Peak (6476m) on the basis of my sub-committee recommendation. Also I am pleased to inform this distinguished UAAA Council members that with my sub-committee recommendation of considering their great contributions in the field of mountaineering and mountain tourism, Nepal Government opened Hillary Peak (7681m), Tenzing Peak (7981m), Herzog Peak, Lechenal Peak, UIAA Peak (6063m) and Peak Hawley. Now the total number of opened peaks in Nepal is 414 peaks. Nepal Government managed 384 peaks and NMA managed 33 lower peaks.
4. 2014 Asian Joint Expedition on newly opened UAAA Peak (6476m): UAAA expedition commission decided the 2014 Asian Joint Expedition on newly opened UAAA peak (6476m) in the Mustang Area from September 17th to October 8th 2014.
5. Conservation and Clean up Campaign of both Mt. Everest and Mt Fuji: Both Mt. Everest and Mt. Fuji are great mountains, serving as cultural and spiritual icons of Nepal and Japan respectively. Both are hailed as global heritage – Mt. Fuji and Mt. Everest are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the moment both the mountains are facing serious environmental challenges including Climate Change. The communities in both countries, particularly those living around these iconic mountains, can benefit immensely through mutual collaboration.
There is an increasing intent on the part of the civil societies in both Japan and Nepal to further strengthen people-to-people contact between the two countries to exchange ideas, to learn from each other, and to take concerted actions to fight their common challenges.The civil society organizations of Japan and Nepal intend to expedite Sister Mountain Exchange and Learning Program to conserve and maintain pristine environment at and around Mt. Everest and Mt. Fuji and to pave the way for collaboration among the mountain communities of Nepal and Japan in their fight against Climate Change.
To initiate and strengthen collaborative actions:
- envision, design, expedite and implement people-to-people learning through exchange programs involving communities and civil society leaders,
- take concerted community actions towards cleaning Mt. Fuji and Mt. Everest,
- expedite exchange of information, technology and resources among the communities at both ends to help make communities resilient to climate change,
- engage in mutually beneficial Communication, Campaigns and Public Relations activities, and
- engage with governments of our respective countries to strengthen and deepen the bilateral government to government collaborative activities around promoting sustainable mountain tourism and fighting Climate Change.
Once again, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Ken Noguchi and his organization SSASS for the kind support and I hope this cooperation will open the door to all the interested donors to be involved in this noble cause. I also would like to request to all our friends about the government’s decision as an attempt of one door policy to forward support for the bereaved families of Nepalese mountaineers, who left this earth during the expedition.
6. Peak Profile: Government of Nepal has formed a 19 member Peak Profile Sub-Committee under my convenership. The Government of Nepal assigned 496 peaks to the committee to prepare the detail peak profiles. The profile will contain all the detail information of mountain in digital format as well as booklets, which will make easier to plan for the expedition teams. I am leading Peak Profile Preparation Committee with 19 members from various expert and technical fields.
The following are the lists of members in the committee:
- Convener – Mr. Ang Tshering Sherpa, Tourism Expert and President of NMA
- Member – Mr. Bhuddi Narayan Shrestha, Former Director General of Survey & Topography • Department, Government of Nepal
- Member – Dr. Hari Prasad Shrestha – Tourism Expert
- Member – Dr. Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa – Environment Expert
- Member – Mr. Deepak Sharma Dahal – Mapping Expert
- Member – Mr. Ang Norbu Sherpa- Mountain Guide
- Member – Mr. Ang Phurba Sherpa- Mountaineer
- Member – Mr. Man Bahadur Khatri- Mountaineer
- Representative – Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation
- Representative – Survey and Topography Department, Gov. Of Nepal
- Representative – Nepal Mountaineering Association
- President – Trekking Agents Association of Nepal
- President – Expedition Operators Association of Nepal
- President – Nepal National Mountain Guide Association
- President – Nepal Mountaineering Instructor Association
- Representative – Nepal Army
- Representative – Nepal Police
- Representative – Nepal Arm Police
- Member Secretary – Mr. Jinesh Sindurakar – CAO, Nepal Mountaineering Association
7. Mountaineering Expedition Activities: On Government managed peaks, 315 permits issued from 1 September 2013 to 31 May 2014. 315 teams with approximately 2100 foreign climber which employed approximately 22,000 manpower as guides, kitchen staffs, porters etc as direct employment.
NMA managed 33 lower peaks; we issued permits to 1247 teams with total of 6107 foreign climbers who employed 24,000: manpower as guide, kitchen staffs, and porters.
There are several remarkable achievements Nepalese climbers are attempting. Among them the most remarkable are the Nepalese Women Seven Summit team and the First Nepalese Women K2 Expedition team to K2 to commemorate K2 Diamond Jubilee Celebration 2014. Both the expedition teams are supported by NMA.
8. Park Young Seok Climbing Competition: Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) in financial assistance from Park Young Seok Foundation started organizing Park Young Seok climbing competition since last year. The event was organized in coordination with Korean Alpine Federation and International Federation of Sports Climbing which was entirely funded by Park Young Seok Foundation and North Face and organized in the birth anniversary of Park Young Seok on 2nd November 1963.
9. Memorandum of understanding signed with Park Young Soek Foundation on 6th November: NMA signed memorandum of understanding with Park Young Seok Foundation, Korea for the purpose of distribution of monthly scholarship to the students recommended by NMA. The scholarship is funded by Park Young Soek for 5 (Five) students with the support of US$ 100 (One Hundred US Dollar) per student per month. The scholarship will get continuation till the students complete their higher secondary education; provided that they clear annual school examination with success.
10. Peaks below 5800m are free for climbing: As per the recommendation of our committee, Government of Nepal decided to give free access to all peaks below 5800m. I hope this will be beneficial to all climbers.
11. Commercial and non-commercial mountaineering and adventure tourism: The mountaineering and adventure tourism in developed countries and under developed countries are completely different situations. In developed countries, mountaineering is perceived as a sport, adventure, leisure activity and a source of additional income. Whereas in less developed countries, it is a fundamental source of livelihood where many are surviving on a hand to mouth basis. It is requested to the UIAA to carefully assess local circumstances before passing judgment on appropriate climbing styles.
12. Fixing of ladder at Hillary step: Nepal has not made any decision regarding the fixing of a ladder at the Hillary Step on Mt. Everest. Nepal strongly opposes any formal recognition of judgments and criticisms about this project without first consulting with the Nepalese delegation.
The Nepalese authorities receive many suggestions and ideas which include the idea to fix a ladder at the Hillary step, Yellow Band, just like the ladder that is fixed at the second step (8600m) on the China Side of Mt. Everest. Mt. Everest is an international icon and a natural world heritage site, so of course it goes without saying that Nepal is very conscious and concerned about the impacts of the decisions. It is Nepal’s intention to protect the mountains and that does mean that Nepalese authorities should listen to new ideas, deliberate on their consequence and make informed and democratic decisions.
13. Traffic on Mt. Everest: In the last few years a lot of criticism has been circulating on the issue of traffic jams on Mt. Everest, that there are traffic jams on her slopes. The traffic jams in previous years were caused because of delay in rope fixing due to a lack of proper coordination, bad weather and accidents. Nepal learnt from the previous years and took corrective action in the year 2013, and as a result there wasn’t a single report of traffic jam that year.
In 2013, the Nepal Government authorized the Expedition Operators Association to coordinate the rope fixing works officially. This led to a strong rope fixing team being assembled, good quality equipment used, double ropes were fixed at bottle necks and the ropes were fixed to the summit in the first week of May. This helped the climbers going for the summit at different times of the many remaining days of May, bottlenecks were easily passed through and the rope was clearly identifiable due to its uniform colour and quality. This resulted to a safer and more secure climbing season with no reports of traffic jams. These improvements will continue in the future.
14. Garbage on Mt Everest: Rumor has it that Mt. Everest has become pile of garbage. There is a misconception that Mt. Everest is a dirty mountain. In fact, if you speak with many international mountaineers, they will testify that Mt. Everest is amongst the cleanest of the popular peaks. The name of Mt. Everest being a dirty mountain started in the 1980s when international publications featured it as a “garbage dump.” Since then, great efforts have been made and government policies have been implemented to clean up the mountain with a great deal of success. For example, my son, Dawa Steven’s own effort on the Eco Everest Expeditions has collected over 15,000 kgs of old garbage from the slopes of Mt. Everest so far. Also more than 800 kgs of human waste produced by our own expedition teams and 5 dead bodies brought down from the slope of Mt. Everest for dignified burial and funeral. It is impossible to say how much old garbage remains buried and hidden under the glacier ice but each year as the ice melts and the glacier moves, any garbage that is uncovered on the surface is quickly collected and disposed. So, it is safe to say that each year, Mt. Everest is becoming cleaner and cleaner.
15. Waiver of Visa Entry Fee for Mt. Everest Summiteers: NMA is also lobbying with government to waive visa fee for Everest Summiteers (Only those who summitted from Nepal side of Mt. Everest). We think this will make Mt. Everest climbers who are honored in foreign countries participate in the promotion of Nepal’s mountain tourism. In addition to this, Mt. Everest summiteers should be provided with an identity card to express the appreciation and value that is placed upon them by Nepal.
16. Suggestions regarding Liaison Officers Team: It is now widely accepted that the current policy regarding the assignment of a Liaison officers on every permit has become impractical, inconvenient and unnecessary. Furthermore, incapable and un-present liaison officers being sent at Mountaineering peaks have become an embarrassment to Nepal and is harming Nepal’s image internationally. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to create an integrated Liaison Officers’ team with their own independent camps from where they can work effectively. The camps must be equipped with hand held and base set radios, telephones/mobile phones, satellite phones, satellite Internet and fax machines (for official documentation).
Currently, it is mandatory to assign a Liaison Officer for an expedition to peaks above 6500m. It is clear to see in the statistics that this has made these peaks less attractive to climbers, due to the high cost of accommodating a Liaison Officer. We therefore recommend that the minimum altitude for a Peak that requires an L.O. to be 6800m. This is in accordance with the practice in our neighboring countries.
17. Proposal of Rescue Cell Establishment: Climate Change will continue to play a major role on Himalayan climbing and there is very little Nepal can do to stop this. However, it is critical for us to adapt. As it is becoming clear that climbing in the Himalaya is becoming more dangerous and technical with the passage of time, it is necessary for Nepal to create a Rescue Cell to respond to these new dangers to climbers. The Rescue Cell must be formulated from highly trained, fully equipped and experienced Nepali personnel from various disciplines and backgrounds. The team must remain in a constant acclimatized state and be able to immediately dispatch in response to emergencies in the mountains. Nepal will need the technical and financial support of all UIAA and UAAA member federations and governments to make this project a reality.
18. Regarding Human Waste management on the Mountains: The Government must make mandatory the use of toilet bags above base camp for human waste management and to make the concerned agency responsible for the proper disposal of those bags by bringing them down from the mountain and disposing them as prescribed by the local authorities.
19. Diamond Jubilee celebrations of various 8000m Peaks: As the year 2014 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the first ascent of Mt. Cho-Oyu, NMA has suggested that the government should waive the Royalty Fee for Mt. Cho-Oyu for that year. In the past 20 years only 2 climbers have ascended Mt. Cho-Oyu from Nepal side, so this decision to waive off the Royalty Fee may encourage and increase the number of climbers attempting to climb Mt. Cho-Oyu. Similarly, the same should be done for the Diamond Jubilee of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Makalu in 2015 and the Diamond Jubilee of Mt. Manaslu and Mt. Lhotse in 2016.
It is important for the Government to celebrate these anniversaries as it helps in bringing media attention to Nepal’s tourism industry which will promote the peaks specifically, boosts up the image of Nepal and provides appropriate opportunities for Nepal to announce the developments and introduces new changes to improve mountain tourism.
20. Impact of Global Warming, Climate Change and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods: The impact of climate change is highly visible and noticeable in the high Himalayan Region. The rise of temperature in high Himalayan region is double the global average temperature rise. Therefore the white snowy peaks and glaciers are melting faster, transforming them into huge glacial lakes which are a great threat to the people living downstream. The UIAA’s knowledge of mountain geography and ecosystems allows it to be highly influential witness to climate change in our time and to extend that influence beyond the mountain community to everyone around us.
Our mountains are our heritage, glory, identity, prestige and the future of our nation. The mountain region needs conservation and sustainable development for the present and for posterity. And with this very goal, the international mountaineering fraternity should play a very vital role by creating awareness for the conservation of the mountain environment and carry out various developmental activities at the local level.Saving our Himalayas means saving ourselves, our future generations because the Himalayas are the Water Towers for three billion people in Asia. As per some scientists and environmentalists, by the end of this century, all the white snow peaks and glaciers will melt away and the glacial lakes will drain out. If the Water Tower for world’s almost half population is empty, it will not only create environmental problems but will create humanitarian crisis and political problem on a scale never seen before.
Achievements and Developments at the UAAA Council meeting 2014:
• Addressed criticism on Nepal regarding the negative media coverage in recent times and regained the image of Nepal as a safe and welcoming mountaineering destination.•
• Conveyed to the international mountaineering community to understand Nepal’s sincerity and positivism in addressing concerns and problems in Himalayan Mountaineering and environmental protection.
• Made UAAA aware of Nepal’s vulnerability to Climate Change and the threats of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods.
• Delegation of other Himalayan Host Countries: Discussing the challenges and benefits of international recognition of new 8000m peaks, and also hosting a Himalayan Host Countries meeting in Nepal in the near future.
• Chairman and members of the commissions who are responsible for internationally recognizing the new 8000m peaks: Lobbying for Nepal’s interests and pledging support to the project, as international recognition of these peaks will be greatly beneficial to the economy as well as employment generation of Nepal as a whole.
• Chairman and members of mountaineering commission, expedition working group, mountain protection commission and access commission: How to work closer with the UIAA (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) and UAAA for better promotion of Nepal’s mountain tourism and protection of the mountain environment.
• Chairman and members of International Ski-Mountaineering Federation: Discussed the possibility to explore the possibility of ski-mountaineering in Nepal. They are ready to give technical expertise and extend cooperation if Nepal should require their assistance.
BRIEF REPORT ON THE UIAA MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETING IN MUNICH 2014:
The management committee meeting of UIAA (World Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) was held in Munich, Germany from 23rd – 25th May 2014. The UIAA is the highest international governing body of all mountaineering, climbing and mountain tourism activities in the world. The General Assembly was attained by officials of national alpine federations and national mountaineering federations from all over the world. Also participating were Honorary Members of UIAA, Executive Board Members, Management Committee Members and the Commission Presidents of UIAA.
Being an Honorary Member, I participated in all the UIAA Management Committee meetings, Executive meeting and various UIAA Commission Presidents’ meetings.
During the meeting many questions were raised to the Nepalese delegation such as the Mt. Everest incident in Spring 2014, commercial and non-commercial mountaineering and adventure tourism, traffic on Mt. Everest, fixing of ladder at the Hillary Step of Mt. Everest, garbage on Mt. Everest, impact of Climate Change and Global Warming in the high Himalayan regions and the threat of glacial lake outburst floods. To respond to these points, I (Honorary member of the UIAA) addressed the gathering several times during the two day’s event. A summary of his talk, reflecting the view of the Nepalese Delegation, are given below. A full transcript of his talks is in attachment.
Brief Report on the SSASS and Fujisan Club Meeting and Press Meet in Tokyo, Kawaguchikoguchi and Yamanashi, Japan on 2nd June – 5 June 2014:
After the Council meeting of UAAA (Asian Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) which was held in Hongkong, I flew from Hongkong to Narita Airport in Japan on 2 June to attend the Seven Summit Action for Sustainable Society and Fujisan Club’s meeting and Press Meet from 3rd – 5th June 2014.
During the meeting and press meet, we discussed many issues such as the Mt. Everest incident in Spring 2014 and initiation of SSASS, specially SSASS President Mr. Ken Noguchi’s effort, commercial and non-commercial mountaineering and adventure tourism, traffic on Mt. Everest, garbage on Mt. Everest and Mt. Fuji and clean of campaign in 2015 for both Mt. Everest and Mt. Fuji at the same time, impact of Climate Change and Global Warming in the high Himalayan regions and the threat of glacial lake outburst floods.
It is our strong belief that Nepal Mountaineering Association and Nepal Government must continue to attend these extremely important global organizations, so that Nepal’s interests can be met, concerns can be voiced and cooperation can be strengthened.
Ang Tshering Sherpa
President of NMA,
IP President of UAAA and Honorary member of UIAA