NEWSLETTERS - Ama Dablam 2014

The Daily Moraine - Ama Dablam 2014 #727 November 2014

Autumn season over

The Himalayan Autumn season is now over, expeditions are finished, gear has been packed away, members are back to their normal lives and we now start preparing for the 2015 seasons.

Our exit from Base camp was very orderly and easily arranged thanks to having most of the yaks living just a few meters away, and the balance of yaks coming up from Pheriche with my old and trusted yak driver Narwang. The descent to Dingboche took less than one hour and from here we split the yaks for those taking loads to Pheriche where it will stay until it is required on Everest next year, and the few loads of personal gear that needed to travel with us back to Ktm. A quick lunch and then a few hours walk back to Phortse, where we spent the last evening with our Sherpa staff in Phurba’s lodge. Next morning we were all in a Simrik helicopter and on our way back to Ktm, Phurba went off to Thangboche to the Mani Rumdu, Nima and Narwang spent a day with their families before they prepared to go to Ktm via the village of Celery to collect paperwork in order to gain US Visa’s for their imminent travel to Salt Lake City. How easy it is to leave expedition life behind, but for Woody, Shinji and myself we were all keen to get home after spending the last 3 months living in tents. After one does this for 6 months of a year, showers and soft beds are welcome.

But, oh it is not so easy, back in Ktm I was again following up on the progress (or lack of) of our permit issue from Everest last Spring. Of course many of the operators expressed their concerns immediately after Everest last year, but since then we have heard nothing from them. In the meanwhile I have been working closely with the EOA as we continue to try and push our suggestions through to Ministerial level. The previous Secretary Burlokoti of the Ministry who handled the whole Everest situation very badly, of course was not going to make any meaningful progress on this matter and as usual was hiding behind his out of date rule books. EOA and some of us understood this, so we had to play a waiting game, and wait for a change of staff and Ministers in the Department of Tourism. This had not happened at the start of the Manaslu expedition, and was in the process of happening when I was back in Ktm between Manaslu and Ama Dablam. By this time the press had already reported that Everest permits from 2014 would only be valid for 2 years and teams must come back as a complete team.

As soon as the new Ministers were in position the EOA again submitted our demands for last year’s Everest Permits to be valid for 5 years on an individual basis, and able to be transferred between companies. At this stage I have to commend this new administration as they listened carefully, and tried to understand the circumstances, and also the effects that this would have on Nepal Tourism. In fact the new administration had to do nothing as they had not been concerned with these matters previously, but from discussions they were positive. Remember that these same Ministers are also under strain concerning the loss of life of trekkers in the Annapurna area as well. Again after Ama Dablam I had many meetings with EOA and other interested parties, and we learnt that all the Ministers concerned had agreed verbally to reach our suggestions. This was good news, but then we could not find the relevant papers, however after extensive enquiries we found that these had in fact been issued and had already been passed by the Ministers, and were now at the Legal Department, but locked in a safe. Apparently the head of the Legal Department had also changed, but the outgoing head had still not passed on the keys of the safe to the new head. This was promised to be resolved within the following week...and it has. But still this paper has to go through several more steps, it goes from the Legal Department to the Finance Department, and then it goes to Congress for approval. I doubt that this will be done by the time that we start expeditions next year.

However this week we received a news article in the Himalayan Times that there had indeed been considerable progress and that in fact the paper will eventually be passed by all concerned, and in a surprise move, although this will not be ready immediately, that we as expedition operators should continue with our plans for the coming season, accepting the changes as per the EOA suggestions. This is bold of the officials, and shows that at least they are trying to be positive and this should be commended. Also we should be saying thank you to Dambar Parajuli the EOA President who has spent so much of his time pushing these matters on behalf of all of us, and other organisations such as Ang Tshering the President of NMA. Now I feel as though we have a positive team in the Ministry which I hope will continue for the coming months.

AVALANCHE ON EVEREST:
Individual permit extension on cards

RAJAN POKHREL

KATHMANDU: The government is mulling over revising the mountaineering regulation to allow all climbers to utilise their group permits that were issued to Mt Everest expeditions during the last spring season on an individual basis within the next five years.

The government’s move comes after mountaineers and stakeholders from across the world criticised its latest decision on five-year extension of group permits, warning that such a decision would not augur well for the country’s mountaineering sector.

“The Department of Tourism, in consultation with Secretary at the Ministry Of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Man Shrestha and others has decided to make necessary procedural arrangements to allow all 318 climbers who abandoned their Mt Everest bid in spring to utilise their permits on individual basis by 2019,” DoT’s Director General Tulsi Gautam told THT.

According to him, DoT also forwarded a proposal to Secretary Shrestha this afternoon asking the ministry to commence the processes to amend the mountaineering regulation to make valid the group permits issued to spring expeditions for all individual climbers for five years.

“MoCTCA will also seek a Cabinet nod to the amendment proposal after holding consultation with law and finance ministries as soon as possible,” he said, requesting all mountaineers, including those who aim to take the challenge in spring 2015, to expedite their preparatory work. “Though it will take some time to formalise the related documents by following due procedures, all permits will remain valid for a single attempt till 2019 even after any member of the respective expeditions scales Mt Everest on his/her own.”

The Expedition Operators’ Association of Nepal, with more than 10 international expedition organisers, had submitted a memorandum to DoT on Monday seeking an immediate revision of its month-old decision, saying it’s highly impractical, as all climbers reside in different parts of the world.

EOAN President Dambar Parajuli appreciated DoT’s move urging the authorities to make their permits transferable from one company to another if anyone wanted to do so.

All climbers of 30 expeditions, except a Chinese mountaineer Wang Jing, were forced to abandon their bid to scale Mt Everest after 16 mountaineering support staff and guides were buried in the deadliest avalanche that struck the slope of Mt Everest on April 18.

DoT data shows it had collected Rs 356 million as royalty from the spring climbers, each of who paid a permit fee of $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the size of their expeditions. International operators, including Himalayan Experience, Himalayan Guides, Peak Freaks, Jagged Globe, Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents International, Exploradus, Benegas Brothers, International Mountain Guides, Rainier Mountaineering and Altitude Junkies had organised most of the expeditions. Everest Avalanche Aftermath...

Regards Russ