KATHMANDU, Nepal – The spring 2011 mountaineering season has begun, and 26 expeditions consisting of 251 climbers have already headed towards Mt. Everest (8,848m) in a bid to scale the highest peak on earth.
The actual climbing will start from mid-May, and the mountaineers will spend time on the lower reaches of the Himalaya to acclimatize themselves.
According to the industry division of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, it has issued 704 climbing permits to 83 expeditions for different peaks in the Himalaya as of Friday.
Last spring, there were more than 661 applicants for climbing permits with 347 climbers making it to the top of the 8,848 m peak before the climbing season ended on May 25. Among the summiteers, 157 were foreigners and 190 Nepalis.
“We are still receiving applications, and this momentum will probably continue for two more weeks,” said L.B. Basnet, an official at the industry division.
The spring mountaineering season attracts the largest number of mountaineers. The government collects more than US$ 3.5 million in mountaineering royalties during the period.
This spring the government has so far collected US$ 2.9 million out of which US$ 2.3 was for Everest. The royalty for the world’s highest peak ranges from US$ 25,000 to US$ 70,000 per expedition depending on the number of members (maximum 15) and the route.
This spring, 15 Nepali civil servants are making a bid on Everest to understand the impact of climate change and make a study of mountain tourism.
Apa Sherpa, who has been given the epithet of Super Sherpa for his feat of climbing Everest 20 times, will be making another attempt this spring. Apa said that his mission this season would be to remove trash from the mountain. Apa first climbed Everest in 1989 and has been repeating the feat almost annually.
A 20-member team from the Indian Air Force will also be taking a shot at the tallest mountain on earth. The expedition consists of 11 women officers who will be accompanied by a doctor and eight male officers who are qualified mountaineers.
According to official statistics, 3,128 climbers have scaled Everest since it was first climbed by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Sherpa in 1953. The government has opened 326 peaks in the Nepal Himalaya for mountaineering. According to the industry division, it has received the largest number of applications to climb Everest from the US followed by India, the UK, Japan and Australia.