Disabled, old climbers may be banned from Mt Everest

  • 29/09/2015
Mt Everest (Reuters)
Mt Everest (Reuters)

A proposal to ban old and disabled climbers from summiting Himalayan peaks such as Mt Everest have been dismissed as a red herring by double-amputee mountaineer Mark Inglis.

The proposal touted by Nepal's tourism department chief Govinda Karki would prevent climbers with disabilities or those considered too old from climbing 8000 metre-plus peaks to improve mountain safety.

An avalanche triggered by the massive Nepal earthquake killed 18 people at Everest base camp in April while at least 17 more people were killed on the slope of the 8848-metre mountain in 2014.

The disasters triggered global debate about the huge risks borne by Nepalis who fix ropes and repair ladders to help climbers with varying levels of experience.

"We don't think we should issue permits to people who cannot see or walk or who don't have arms," Karki told AFP.

"Climbing Everest is not a joke... it is not a matter of discrimination, how can you climb without legs? Someone will have to carry you up."

But Mr Inglis, who lost both his legs to frostbite and became the first double amputee to reach the top of Everest in 2006, rubbished the proposed regulations.

He said similar proposals had been mooted in the past, but instead of blanket bans, the government should impose the rules they already have.

"They're coming from the wrong direction. You just need to be a competent climber, it doesn't matter how many limbs you've got," he told NZ Newswire today.

"It's a red herring, in actual fact they should ensure the regulations that they have in place are adhered to by all of the expeditions because there are a lot that don't."

Mountaineering is a major revenue-earner for impoverished Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 peaks over 8000 metres.