DISCUSSING ACCESS TO THE MOUNTAINS OF NEPAL
With eight of the fourteen world’s highest mountain peaks located within its borders, Nepal is well known as one of the greatest destinations for climbing and mountaineering. From Everest to Kanchenjunga, its mountains have created legends and have inspired incredible feats of human endeavours.
Over recent years, the climbing and mountaineering community, often through UIAA member federations, has expressed its concern regarding increased restrictions proposed by Government of Nepal. The latest plans, muted at the close of 2017, recommended restricting access to those who would travel with guides and considered banning solo climbers.
In response to these measures and on behalf of its members, the UIAA recently held a meeting with Mr Deepak Dhital, Nepalese Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the UN, other International Organizations and WTOs in Geneva. UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt was represented by Nils Glatthard, UIAA Director of Operations.
During the meeting, Mr Dhital explained that the Government of Nepal rather than focusing on restrictions is committed to guaranteeing safe access to its mountains stressing that the ‘status quo’ would continue, meaning – neither the restrictions recently proposed nor any new ones, would come into place for the foreseeable future. Mr Dhital emphasized that climbers and mountaineers, as they have been throughout the past century, are most welcome in Nepal and they will continue enjoy the county’s renowned hospitality.
It is the belief of the UIAA that climbers should have unrestricted access to the mountains provided they do so in a respectful and responsible manner- with respect primarily for nature, the environment and local cultures. This is a key component of the UIAA’s Climbers’ Manifesto and ethical papers including the historic 1982 Kathmandu Declaration.
The UIAA also took the opportunity to share details of its work in improving climber safety, one of the concerns which prompted Nepal Government to consider implementing new measures, notably its international Safety Label, training standards and high-attitude medical advice, all designed to improve the access to knowledge, safety and experience of mountaineers worldwide. The UIAA offered support to Nepal Government in making these important messages even more available to those planning on visiting its mountains.
The mountains of Nepal offer fantastic opportunities to the climbers of the world. The UIAA extends its gratitude to Government and the people of Nepal for the warm hospitality and extensive services they have long offered to climbers worldwide.