China restricts number of Everest climbers

China is is to restrict the number of climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest from the north by up to one-third this year as part of a major clean up of the world’s highest peak.

The total number of people allowed to climb from the mountain via Tibet will be limited to fewer than 300, Chinese state media reported on Monday. The climbing season will also be restricted to spring, the season in which the world’s highest mountain is almost invariably attempted.

State-run China Daily said clean up efforts would for the also include the recovery of the bodies of climbers who died at more than 8,000metres (26,246ft) up the mountain, known as the “death zone” where the air is too thin to sustain human life for long.

Every year, about 60,000 climbers, guides, and tourists visit the region of Everest the 8,850-metre (29,035ft) peak between Nepal and Tibet, with hundreds attempting the climb from both sides.

Most climbers, however, approach the peak from the southern side in Nepal via the popular South Col route. Between April and May. In 2017, 648 people reached the summit of Everest, including 202 from the Tibetan side, according to the non profit body Himalayan Database.

Mountaineers and sherpas on the summit of Mount Everest

Mountaineers and Sherpas on the summit of Mount Everest 2018. Photograph: Phunjo Lama/AFP/Getty Images

However in recent years the Chinese side has become more popular as expedition guiding companies have opted for the north side of the mountain citing safety concerns in the dangerous ice fall on the Nepalese side, a jumble of tottering ice cliffs and crevasses that climbers must pass.

Some guiding companies have also begun preferring the north side citing concerns over safety following the recent proliferation of cut price guiding companies in Nepal.

In June, Chinese officials said a team of 30 people had cleared 8.5 tonnes of rubbish, faeces, and equipment from the peak in the span of two months.

China has set up stations to sort, recycle and break down rubbish from the mountain, which includes cans, plastic bags, stove equipment, tents and oxygen tanks.

Workers said cleaning the peak was almost as strenuous as attempting to summit it, according to Chinese state media. Since 2015, officials in Tibet have required climbers to retrieve 8kg of rubbish, fining climbers $100 for every kilogram they are short. China has also said it will build environmentally friendly toilets and waste sites.

On the Nepalese side, organisers of mountaineering expeditions have begun sending large waste bags with climbers during the spring climbing season to collect refuse that can be winched by helicopters back to base camp.

Tim Mosedale, a British mountain guide who has climbed Everest six times and plans to try and climb Everest twice from both the Nepalese and Chinese sides in the coming spring Everest session, said that the announcement had been rumoured for about a month.

“We’d heard there was some announcement likely,” he told the Guardian, adding that it appeared to be an attempt stabilise the numbers on the Chinese side.

“Prices have gone up on the Chinese side and they are now asking for a deposit for clearing litter,” he said, adding that the bureaucracy on the Chinese side tended to be both more structured.

“It seems to be a bit of classic muscle-flexing to show who is boss,” he added. “There is always some suspense with the Chinese authorities about whether the mountain will be open and whether an operator will get a permit and what the rules will be.”

Source: The Guardian