Mountaineers are acclimatising at Everest base camp. Photo Courtesy: Lakpa Norbu Sherpa

KATHMANDU:  With the world mountaineers traversing through the treacherous Khumbu icefall on Mt Everest, Nepal’s Department of Tourism today said it had issued climbing permits to at least 729 mountaineers who would be attempting to climb 21 different mountains in the spring season.

“As of today, 376 world climbers including 20 Nepalis representing five teams obtained climbing permits for Mt Everest while a nine-member team comprising five South Koreans will be applying in a day or two becoming the last to seek permit for the world’s highest peak in the season,” Durga Dutta Dhakal, DoT’s Director said.

According to him, climbers of 41 expeditions from different 44 countries have already headed to Khumbu region for acclimatisation.

“At least 53 female climbers, three of them as team leader, have headed to Mt Everest,” he shared. DoT record shows that there were only 289 foreign climbers who had obtained climbing permits for Mt Everest in the last spring season.

After traversing through the icefall section, Jim Davidson, a Colorado-based seasoned mountaineer, told THT  Online from base camp that icefall was in good shape in the lower third due to some recent snow. “The middle third, up to the so-called football field, had a bit more hard ice exposed than in 2015 and a few more precarious spots while there are less ladders than in 2015, perhaps about 10 to cross-up to the level of 18,800 feet,” he said.

According to Ronnie Muhl of Adventures Global, there was a meeting in the base camp yesterday to discuss the fixing of lines above Camp II and all the way to the summit. This year too, the ministry has allowed for all of the fixing gear including ropes, pitons, screws and biners to be flown by chopper up to Camp II. At least 16 loads have already been airlifted to Camp II while such move certainly eliminates lots of dangerous load carries through the icefall by Sherpas, he added. Along with Mt Everest, at least 100 climbers for Mt Lhotse and 30 for Mt Nuptse will also be using the icefall route.Min Bahadur Sherchan with Shiva Bahadur Sapkota in Namche. Photo: THT

Min Bahadur Sherchan, 86, also reached Namche bazaar for acclimatisation today, according to his climbing guide Shiva Bahadur Sapkota. Sherchan is in a bid to reclaim the title of oldest ever Everest summiteer this season.

The only Bangladeshi climber of the season Amatun Noor, 21, is the youngest female to obtain Everest climbing permit while 31-year old Giselle Carolina Cesin Ramirez would want to become the first Venezuelan female to be on the roof of the world, the DoT record shows.

Oldest foreign climbers in male and female categories – Japanese Hiromi Wada, 70, and Joy Christine Deerness, 68, from New Zealand — have also headed for Mt Everest this season.

The youngest foreign male climber on Mt Everest is Changwn Wang, 21, from China, the DoT record shows.

Among the expedition leaders on Mt Everest, 10 are Americans followed by five each from India and Nepal.

376 mountaineers have obtained permit for Mt Everest expedition for this spring season

Women climbers — Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir from Iceland and Tsakaldimi Kyriaki from Greece — would also be attempting to climb Mt Everest for their country record, the expedition operators said.

Kanchhi Maya Tamang, Nanu Maya Gurung, Bhumira Gurung, Sushil Sherma, Naba Raj Bastola and Chitra Bahadur Khatri Chhetri among 20 Nepali climbers also headed to Mt Everest as expedition members while over 1,000 Nepali support staff would accompany world climbers in the Mt Everest region, a DoT official estimated.

“Remaining Nepali climbers are British Gurkhas as their team is led by Krishna Thapa Magar of Himalayan Ski Trek.”

Fernando Latorre Torres is only climber attempting to climb Mt Everest from Spain this season while record holder Ueli Steck is sole climber from Switzerland obtaining climbing permit for Mt Everest.

Everest ER Logistic Manager Lakpa Norbu Sherpa told THT Online over phone from base camp that expeditions planned to fix ropes from Camp II to higher camps from April 20.

According to him, the base camp is being crowded with climbers and their support staff.

“The Everest ER clinic treated at least 50 patients in a week while four persons were evacuated to Lukla from base camp,” he said.

As many as 67 expedition teams with 625 climbers are climbing nine mountains above 8,000 metres

 By Rajan Pokharel for THT

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