Eleven people died this year on Mount Everest -- including 9 in Nepal -- likely due to altitude sickness, which is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can lead to headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Nepal had issued permits to 381 people to climb the 29,035-foot Everest summit in 2019, which the government said was the greatest number ever.
But a report by a Nepal government committee formed after a bad mountaineering season recommends that going forward, climbers must have scaled tall peaks, undergone proper training, and possess certificates of good health and insurance that would cover rescue costs, if required.
The report said that people looking to scale Everest must have successfully climbed a peak higher than 21,320 feet before they can apply for a permit. Each climber would also be required to have a trained Nepali guide.
Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, a senior Tourism Ministry official, told Reuters the recommendations would be implemented.
“The government will now make the required changes in laws and regulations guiding mountain climbing,” he told Reuters.
The March-May climbing season is when weather conditions are best for climbing the Himalayan mountain.
Because of the altitude, climbers have just hours to reach the top before they are at risk of pulmonary edema, when the lungs fill with liquid, causing respiratory failure.
Mountaineers have described traffic jams caused by exhausted rookies in the "death zone," the final phase of the ascent from Camp Four, at 26,240 feet to the 29,035-foot peak
Mira Acharya, a member of the panel, said deaths this year were "due to altitude sickness, heart attack, exhaustion or weaknesses and not due to traffic jams.” Acharya added the compulsory provision of guides for each climber was to discourage solo attempts, which put lives at risk.
Following the deaths, Nepal's government was criticized for allowing too many climbers on the peak.
Mountaineering authorities were also criticized for not stopping inexperienced climbers who had difficulty coping with harsh conditions on Everest and slowed down other climbers on the trail to the summit.
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, and mountain climbing is a key source of employment and income for the cash-strapped nation. The country takes in about $300 million each year from climbing,
The Associated Press contributed to this report.