A 36-year-old Nepali became the fastest climber to summit the world's 14 highest mountains on Tuesday, scaling all the mountains in just over six months, his hiking agency said, a feat other climbers have taken several years to complete. Nirmal Purja scaled Mount Shishapangma at 8,027 metres (26,335 feet) in Tibet, six months and one week after he climbed his first in the campaign, Mount Annapurna I, kicking off his ‘Project Possible’. Mingma Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks agency that provided logistics to Purja's team said he was accompanied by three sherpa climbers to the Sishapangma summit. ‘Mission achieved,’ Purja posted on his Instagram from the summit in Tibet, the world's 14th highest mountain. Agency official Sherpa said all summiteers were on their way to base camp and expected to return to Kathmandu this week. ‘This is the world record,’ he said. After climbing Annapurna, the tenth highest peak, on April 23, Purja took on the other ‘8,000ers’, climbing Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in the following month. He then went to Pakistan, where he climbed Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, K2, and the Broad Peak. Purja climbed another two peaks in Nepal - Cho Oyu and Manaslu before heading to Tibet, climbing officials said. Of the world's 14 highest peaks eight are in Nepal, five in Pakistan and one in Tibet. Climbing experts say barely over three dozen mountaineers have climbed all the 14 peaks so far. The record for the fastest ascent was previously held by South Korean Kim Chang-ho who completed all ‘8,000ers’ in seven years, 10 months and six days, said blogger Alan Arnette. Purja, who served with British special forces as a Gorkha from Nepal, in May took a photograph showing scores of climbers linked up on the summit ridge of Mount Everest, which went viral exposing the traffic jam in the so-called death zone of the world’s highest mountain. That photograph led the Nepali government to draft a new set of climbing rules aimed at reducing the crowd on Everest, following criticism by climbers who said it was undermining the safety and issuing permits to anyone who paid $11,000.
A group of tourists sip water at a five-star hotel in Kathmandu, unaware that the green glasses in their hands were once bottles discarded on Mount Everest – left by climbers eager to make their ascent. In homes across the Nepali capital upcycled items, from pots to lamps, crafted from Everest waste products are slowly making their way as authorities and businesses look for fresh ways to tackle the damage caused by decades of commercial mountaineering. Tonnes of trash – including empty cans and gas canisters, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear – litter the mountain, which has been dubbed the “highest dumpster in the world”. “Waste doesn’t need to be wasted,” Nabin Bikash Maharjan of local recycling organisation Blue Waste to Value (BW2V) said. “We received a mix of materials from Everest – aluminium, glass, plastic, iron – much of which could be recycled,” he explained, adding: “We need to up-cycle and add value to them.” After heavy criticism for the condition of one of its greatest natural resources, Nepal’s government and mountaineering groups this year organised a six-week clean-up. Scaling almost 8,000m (26,300ft) from base camp to the closest camp to the summit, a 14-strong team retrieved more than 10 tonnes of trash that was flown or driven to recycling centres in Kathmandu. Workers there manually sorted the materials – each type following a different path to rebirth: Iron was sent to rod manufacturing firms, shredded aluminium cans to utensil makers, and discarded bottles refashioned into household items. “Waste is a taboo in our society, considered as dirt,” mused Ujen Wangmo Lepcha of Moware Designs, which upcycles rubbish into light fixtures and glasses. “When they see these kind of products they are like ‘wow’, these things can be made and it is possible,” she explained. Their products are now used in upmarket hotels, restaurants, and homes around the capital, and Lepcha says there is growing consumer interest in goods made from salvaged Everest scraps. Aanchal Malla of Hotel Yak & Yeti, a luxury five-star hotel in Kathmandu, said opting for the upcycled goods was in-line with the hotel’s move towards sustainable and environmentally friendly products. “It is not just better for us and the environment but then it goes way bigger than that... it is encouragement of everyone who is trying to move into that direction of making the globe into a better place, reducing all the waste,” Malla said. A new waste facility – called Sagarmatha Next after the Nepali name for Everest – is also being completed in Syangboche at an altitude of nearly 3,800m (12,400ft), passed by trekkers and mountaineers on the way to the base camp. It will process garbage, and collaborate with artists and innovators to make new products in a bid to tap into this burgeoning market for Everest ‘products’. But mountaineers warn that this year’s clean-up collected just a fraction of Mt Everest’s rubbish – with the higher and harder to reach camps still littered by abandoned gear. Melting glaciers, caused by global warming, are revealing years-old waste but as the number of climbers attempting to summit soars so do the environmental challenges. Eleven climbers died in the 2019 Everest season, with industry insiders criticising Nepal for issuing a record 381 permits – leading to high numbers on the mountain and bottlenecks to the summit. Not all the bodies can be brought down so corpses too lie abandoned on the slopes. Water sources downstream of the 8,848m Himalayan peak have been contaminated by everything from human excrement to empty gas canisters. Locals say some big-spending foreign climbers – it costs at least $30,000 to tackle Everest – pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind, even when given financial incentives. Six years ago, Nepal implemented a $4,000 rubbish deposit per team, to be refunded if each climber brought down at least 8kg (18 pounds) of waste, but only half of them returned with their trash. In August, the Everest region municipality announced it would ban some single-use plastics and drinks in plastic bottles from the area from early 2020. Community NGO Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, along with BW2V and other agencies, recently launched a campaign to transport waste to recycling centres by harnessing the roughly 50,000 trekkers and their guides who visit the region every year – not all attempt the summit but many travel to base camp. They are each asked to carry a 1kg (2.2 pounds) pouch of processed trash to Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region, or Kathmandu for recycling. “We have to work year after year to make a real impact,” Ang Dorje Sherpa of the committee said, but warned that recycling alone was not the solution. “In the long-term we need is to minimise the trash at the source, and make the polluters responsible for the cleaning.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Nepal yesterday on a state visit for talks with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and both sides are expected to sign a deal expanding a railway link between the Himalayan nation and Tibet, officials said. Xi, the first Chinese president to visit Nepal in 22 years, arrived from India, where he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nepal, a natural buffer between India and China, has been trying to lessen its dependence on New Delhi. President Bidya Devi Bhandari greeted Xi on arrival at the airport ringed by hills. Thousands of people stood along the flower festooned route to welcome the Chinese leader as he drove from the airport to the hotel. The Chinese leader will meet Oli today and the two leaders are expected to witness their officials sign a slew of deals, including the planned extension of the rail link from remote, mountainous Tibet to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, officials said. The link will be part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Xi’s signature project that Nepal joined in 2017. Rajan Bhattarai, one of Oli’s top aides, said a feasibility study of the plan had been conducted by Chinese experts.“An agreement for the preparation of a detailed project report for the railway link is expected to be signed after the prime minister’s meeting with President Xi on Sunday,” Bhattarai told Reuters.The report will contain cost estimates, with financing and construction models to be decided, officials said. Nepal sees the rail link with China as an alternative to its dependence on India. New Delhi accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nepal’s trade and is the sole source of its fuel supply. A prolonged blockade of its border crossings with India in 2015 and 2016 left Nepal short of fuel and medicine for months. Asian giants India and China have both sought to woo Nepal and have poured in aid and infrastructure investment. Beijing has helped build or upgrade highways, airports and power plants in Nepal under the Belt and Road infrastructure drive — a string of ports, railways, roads, bridges and other investments tying China to Europe via central and southern Asia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Nepal on Saturday for talks with Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and is expected to sign a deal expanding a railway link between the Himalayan nation and Tibet, officials said. Xi will be the first Chinese president to visit Nepal in 22 years and will arrive from India, where he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Landlocked Nepal, a natural buffer between India and China, has been trying to lessen its dependence on New Delhi. The Chinese leader will meet Oli on Sunday and the two leaders are expected to sign a slew of deals, including the planned extension of the rail link from remote, mountainous Tibet to Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, officials said. The link will be part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, Xi's signature project that Nepal joined in 2017. Rajan Bhattarai, one of Oli's top aides, said a feasibility study of the plan had been conducted by Chinese experts. ‘An agreement for the preparation of a detailed project report for the railway link is expected to be signed after the prime minister's meeting with President Xi on Sunday,’ Bhattarai told Reuters. The report will contain cost estimates, with financing and construction models to be decided, officials said. Nepal sees the rail link with China as an alternative to its dependence on India. New Delhi accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nepal's trade and is the sole source of its fuel supply. A prolonged blockade of its border crossings with India in 2015 and 2016 left Nepal short of fuel and medicine for months. Asian giants India and China have both sought to woo Nepal and have poured in aid and infrastructure investment. Beijing has helped build or upgrade highways, airports and power plants in Nepal under the Belt and Road infrastructure drive - a string of ports, railways, roads, bridges and other investments tying China to Europe via central and southern Asia.
An overloaded bus plunged down a hill in central Nepal, killing at least 11 and injuring 108 people, an official said Saturday. The packed bus was ferrying passengers -- who had been celebrating the Hindu festival of Dashain -- from Sindhupalchowk to neighbouring Kathmandu. But the crowded vehicle slipped and fell more than 50 metres at a bend. ‘Six people were killed instantly and five more passed away on the way to hospital or while being treated,’ district official Goma Devi Chemjong told AFP. Chemjong said 108 people were injured but only 39 were kept for treatment. ‘We are investigating what caused the accident,’ she said. Accidents are common on Nepal's poorly maintained highways, with the number increasing during the festival season when the roads are far busier and public transport overcrowded.
A UN committee has ordered Nepal to compensate a man blocked from seeking justice after suffering years of forced labour, as well as alleged torture in custody as a child. In a decision published Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Committee also called on Nepal to remove all existing obstacles hindering victims of forced labour and torture from filing complaints. The ruling came in response to an individual case brought by a Nepali man, using the pseudonym Bholi Pharaka, who from the age of nine had worked as a domestic worker in Kathmandu to help provide for his impoverished, indigenous family. When he was around 12, he moved to a new family, headed by an officer in the Nepali army, where he says he was forced to work from 4:00 am until 10:00 pm each day. He maintains he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse and never received compensation for his labour. After two years, he escaped back to his home village in 2012, but was soon arrested, after his employer filed a police complaint accusing him of theft. While in custody, Pharaka, who was 14 at the time, says he suffered beatings and other torture to force him to confess. With his family unable to pay bail or legal fees, he was held in a severely overcrowded adult jail for months, where he says the torture continued, before being transferred to a juvenile facility. The UN committee faulted Nepal's judiciary for failing to investigate the boy's claims in court that he had been tortured, and for failing to protect him as a minor and a member of a recognised vulnerable minority. It also decried that authorities had ignored multiple complaints filed by the boy's family regarding his treatment in custody and the forced labour he was subjected to. The committee called on Nepal to provide Pharaka with an ‘effective remedy’, including ‘adequate compensation, proportional to the violations suffered.’ It also urged the country to remove ‘legal, practical and administrative obstacles’ blocking victims of torture and child and forced labour from accessing justice. ‘It is our hope that Nepal will take all necessary measures to protect and help victims of such acts regain their lives,’ committee member Helene Trigroudja said in a statement. The committee has given Nepal six months to report back on measures it is taking to rectify the situation. The team of 18 independent experts monitors whether countries adhere to their human rights commitments, but does not have enforcement powers.
Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli yesterday left for Singapore for a health check-up. The prime minister’s aides said Oli, who underwent kidney transplant in 2007 in New Delhi, was going for a regular check-up at National University Hospital in Singapore. Doctors attending the prime minister had referred him to the National University Hospital in Singapore. An ultrasound-guided renal biopsy was conducted a few days ago on Oli to test the functioning of his kidneys. There were traces of protein in his urine. He had heart palpitations and fluctuating blood sugar. He is going to Singapore not because he is sick, but because he has to undergo a routine check-up, said Kundan Aryal, PM Oli’s press adviser. He will undergo necessary medical tests, said Aryal. After his kidney transplant, Oli had regularly undergone routine health check-ups in different countries, including India. Oli had undergone treatment at the Singapore-based hospital where he was treated for an infectious swelling in his right hand in 2014. PM Oli is accompanied by his spouse Radhika Shakya, Chief Political Adviser Bishnu Rimal, and private doctor Dibya Shah, among others, shared PM’s press coordinator Chetan Adhikari. The PM was seen off by National Assembly Chair Ganesh Prasad Timilsina, Deputy Prime Minster and Defence Minister Ishwore Pokharel, Home Minster Ram Bahadur Thapa, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali and NCP general secretary Bishnu Poudel, among others at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
Nepalese police on Wednesday were searching for more child victims of an Australian arrested for allegedly abusing two boys, the latest foreigner to be accused of paedophilia in the Himalayan country. The 62-year-old paragliding pilot was arrested Tuesday after police raided his rented house in the tourist town of Pokhara following a tip-off. Police said the pilot, who had been working in Nepal for three years, was caught "red-handed" with two boys aged 12 and 14. "He has been living here so we need to investigate if there are other victims or if he is connected with a network of paedophiles," local police official Dan Bahadur Karki told AFP. Weak law enforcement has made Nepal notorious for sexual predators, with several arrests and convictions in recent years. The suspects often target children from poor families, luring them with gifts or with promises to support their education. Last year at least four foreigners were arrested in child sexual abuse cases, while a British man was arrested in January. Earlier this month, former United Nations official Peter Dalglish was sentenced to nine years in jail for sexually abusing two boys. In 2015, 71-year-old Canadian orphanage volunteer Ernest MacIntosh was sent to prison for seven years for sexually abusing a disabled 15-year-old boy. And in 2010, French charity worker Jean-Jacques Haye was convicted of raping 10 children at a Kathmandu orphanage.
The death toll in Nepal from flash floods and landslides in the past three days rose to 55 on Sunday, with dozens missing and injured, the government said. Ten thousand people have been displaced from their homes as incessant monsoon rains pounded many areas in mostly mountainous Nepal since Thursday, submerging large swathes of land, inundating homes, and destroying bridges and roads across the country. A Home Ministry statement said 55 people had been confirmed dead and 33 injured. There are 30 missing. India's northeastern state of Assam has also been hard hit by the floods brought by the monsoon, with at least 1.5 million people displaced and 10 dead. And in the Chittagong division of Bangladesh there have been 10 deaths and about 500,000 displaced as 200 villages have been flooded. In Nepal, cabinet spokesman Gokul Banskota told reporters that "the disaster has caused a big loss to the economy". The government will make an assessment soon, he added. Nepal Red Cross spokesman Dibya Raj Poudel said the displaced had been sheltered in schools and other public buildings. Television channels showed roofs of houses submerged in flood waters in the southern plains and people wading through chest-deep water with their belongings on their heads. Officials said in some areas rains had eased but some rivers in the eastern part of the country were still above flood level. Authorities asked residents to remain alert. The Kosi River, which flows into the eastern Indian state of Bihar, was among those that had risen above the flood level. Nepal police official Ishwari Dahal said all 56 sluice gates of the Kosi barrage on the Nepal-India border had been opened last night for six hours to drain out 371,000 cusecs of water, the highest accumulation in 15 years. A cusec is a measurement of flow, equivalent to one cubic foot per second. "Its water level has gone down now," Dahal told Reuters from the barrage site in southeast Nepal. The Kosi has been a serious concern for both India and Nepal since it broke its banks in 2008 and changed course, submerging swathes of land and affecting more than 2 million people in India's Bihar state. About 500 people died in that disaster.
Flash floods and landslides in Nepal triggered by monsoon rains killed 15 people and injured 12 overnight while another 18 have gone missing, officials said yesterday. The latest deaths took to 30 the number of people killed in incessant rain that since Thursday has pounded much of the Himalayan nation tucked between China and India. Officials said the Kosi River in eastern Nepal, which flows into the eastern Indian state of Bihar, had risen above the danger mark. The Kosi has been a serious concern for both India and Nepal since it broke its banks in 2008 and changed course, submerging swathes of land and affecting more than 2mn people in Bihar. About 500 people died in that disaster. Thirty of the 56 sluice gates at a barrage along the Kosi at the Indo-Nepal border have been opened, and rescue teams deployed to evacuate villagers, officials said. The weather office urged residents to remain alert, saying heavy rains were expected to continue through the weekend. “Though rains have eased in some areas, people should remain very careful as there are chances of heavy rains through Sunday,” weather department official Bibhuti Pokharel said. The annual monsoon rains, which normally start in June and continue through September, are crucial for Nepal, a country of 30mn people, and India, which both depend on the annual downpours for farming. But landslides and floods often result, killing scores of people every year.
At least 17 people have been killed across Nepal after torrential monsoon rains induced floods and landslides, officials said yesterday. Heavy rains since Thursday have hit several districts in Nepal, especially in the country’s eastern region and the southern plains. According to figures released by Nepal’s police, 17 people have died, seven are injured and another seven have been reported missing. Kathmandu has recorded 115mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. Three were killed when a wall collapsed in the capital Kathmandu. The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology has urged the people in the areas around the rivers and streams to remain alert. The Home Ministry has urged the people in settlements near the rivers to move to safe zones as rainfall will continue till tomorrow. There has been heavy rainfall across the country with Simara recording 311mm, Okhaldhunga 101mm, Dhankuta 675.5mm, and Bhairahawa 43mm in the past 24 hours. Pokhara, Dipayal, Dadeldhura and Dhangadi, however, have recorded lesser rainfall. “Local authorities and our security officials are all working to rescue people and bring them to safety. Helicopters are on standby if needed,” Home Ministry official Umakanta Adhikari said. Nepal’s weather department warned on Thursday that heavy rains were expected to continue for two days, and advised people to stay alert. Nearly 150 people died last year in Nepal during the rainy season, which typically begins in late June and lasts until the end of August.
In a bid to save Mount Everest from trash, Nepal conducted a month-long cleaning campaign by collecting over 10,000kg of rubbish from the region. The historical mega clean-up campaign co-ordinated by government and non-government agencies by mobilising a dedicated Sherpa team from the base camp to four higher camps, not only collected waste but also removed four dead bodies from the roof of the world, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Instead of sending those solid waste to dump in the landfill site near Kathmandy, the items were segregated, processed and recycled as raw materials for various products. “We segregated the collected materials in different categories like plastic, glass, iron, aluminium and textile. Among 10 tonnes of waste received, two tonnes have been recycled while the remaining eight were soil mixed with wrappers and semi-burned items, which could not be recycled,” Nabin Bikash Maharjan, the head of Blue Waste to Value, told Xinhua. More than 50 people have been involved in Kathmandu-based Blue Waste to Value since 2017, which is a social enterprise dedicated to creating value from waste. Besides recycling the waste of the mountain, Maharjan’s team is also working with municipalities, hospitals, hotels and different offices to maximise value from waste by recycling, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and by creating green jobs. To make the Everest cleanup campaign more effective, the company suggested authorities to set up an initial processing unit in the mountain area itself, so that waste can be segregated immediately and easily managed. Though the company does not recycle the materials itself, it collaborates with another firm called Moware Designs to create up-cycled glass bottle products and to sell them online. Ujen Wangmo Lepcha from Moware Designs shared that the unique, colourful and artistic glass products are a trend recently for home, offices, restaurants and hotels. They are used as decorative items as a flower vase, candle cover, plates, travel cups, regular drinking glasses or as an accessory. “Basically these waste products have no value in the market, so we are trying to add value and trying to reduce the waste from landfill. The products are environment-friendly and full of art,” Lepcha told Xinhua. The young entrepreneur said that these products, which range from 350 Nepalese rupees to 2,000 Nepalese rupees ($3 to $18), are bacteria free as they are sterilised. The same glass items have also been a means of livelihood for many local women who shape the trash into trendy designs. According to Nepal’s regulation, every foreigner needs to pay $11,000 as royalty while a Nepali climber has to pay $710 to scale the 8,848m-tall mountain. Besides, the government collects garbage deposits from the climbers with a provision of refund after they bring back at least 8kg of garbage. High altitude guides claimed that piles of trash are still found in the mountain with an adverse impact on health and the environment. The Nepal Mountaineering Association said the government should come up with a new policy to have a separate fund, which can be used to continue the cleanliness campaign to make the mountaineering industry sustainable.
Thousands of Nepalis took to the streets yesterday demanding the government scraps a bill that stands to interfere with a centuries-old trust system integral to the country’s cultural heritage. The controversial bill is among several registered by the current communist government in recent months that has triggered a public outcry and accusations of narrowing civil space and freedom. The system, known as “guthi”, is rooted within the Newar community indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley. It has a special role in maintaining temples and traditional public spaces, as well as organising festivals and religious parades. Loud chants to scrap the bill rang as demonstrators waved the national flag and played traditional drums. “They are attacking our heritage. Guthi has been part of our culture for generations and we will not let the government take it away,” protester Nani Maiya Maharjan said. Guthis, usually led by families or specific communities, generate income from commonly owned lands. A series of protests began after the government registered the bill in late April, envisioning a new authority that will govern all guthis and remove the current local trustees. In a protest earlier this month, police used water cannons and batons to disperse demonstrators. Yesterday’s mass protest took place despite a government announcement the day before to withdraw the bill and hold discussions with concerned stakeholders. “We are here to warn the government. We will not back down until the bill is scrapped,” said Rajan Kansakar, a student at the protest. There are over 2,000 public guthis in Nepal under an independent umbrella body which currently oversees the trusts. Guna Raj Luitel, editor of the Nagarik newspaper, said that the government was showing “authoritarian” tendencies. “We are seeing is that the government feels it can do anything with its majority in the parliament. It is seeking to concentrate power while silencing the people,” Luitel said. The current government came to power after a landmark victory in the 2017 elections, winning a strong majority in both houses of parliament and six of the seven provincial assemblies.
Nepali activists rallied in Kathmandu yesterday calling for an end to religious animal sacrifices, months ahead of a festival that in the past has seen tens of thousands of animals slaughtered. Some of the more than 200 protesters wore fake buffalo, goat and chicken heads, as they chanted against a practice deeply rooted in the country’s traditions. “This is wrong and must stop,” Sneha Shrestha of the Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal said. Animal rights campaigners face an uphill struggle in Nepal, where Hindus make up 80% of the population and where ritual sacrifice is a part of everyday life and central to major festivals. Placards at the protest also called for a halt to sacrifices at Gadhimai, a festival believed to be the world’s biggest ritual slaughter. Once every five years, the tiny village of Bariyapur near Nepal’s border with India flows with blood, as thousands of Hindu devotees flock to its temple to honour Gadhimai. The temple’s head priest begins the centuries-old festival with the ritual sacrifice of two wild rats, two pigeons, a rooster and a lamb before tens of thousands of animals are killed. Although the temple banned the practice under huge pressure in 2015, activists fear sacrifices will still be held at the next festival, due in November. During the two-day festival, worshippers from Nepal and neighbouring India spend days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers at the temple.
Nepali climbers have retrieved four bodies and collected some 11 tonnes of decades-old garbage from Mount Everest and its approach below the base camp as part of a drive to clean up the world's highest mountain, the government said on Wednesday. Climbers returning from the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) mountain say its slopes are littered with human excrement, used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers left behind by climbers, a embarrassment for a country that earns valuable revenue from Everest expeditions. The garbage, along with the bodies of some of the 300 people who have died over the years on Everest's slopes, are buried under the snow during winter, but become visible when the snow melts in summer. A clean-up team of 20 sherpa climbers collected five tonnes of litter in April and May from different camps sites above the base camp and another six tonnes from the areas below, said Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of the Department of Tourism. ‘Unfortunately, some garbage collected in bags at the South Col could not be brought down due to bad weather,’ Ghimire said in a statement on Wednesday. Everest was first conquered by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and about 5,000 people have since reached the summit. South Col, on the Southeast Ridge route pioneered by Hillary and Tenzing, is located at some 8,016 metres (26,300 feet), and it is the site of the final camp from where climbers begin their summit attempts. Cleaning campaign coordinator Nim Dorjee Sherpa, head of the village where Mount Everest is located, told Reuters two bodies were collected from the treacherous Khumbu Icefall and two from camp three site at the Western Cwm. ‘They were exposed from the snow when the sherpas picked up and brought them down,’ he said. None of the four bodies have been identified and it was not known when they died. Nine mountaineers died on the Nepali side of Everest in May while two perished on the Tibetan side, making it the deadliest climbing season since 2015. Climbers returning from Everest have talked of crowding and delays on the Nepali side just below the summit in the ‘death zone’, so-called because at that altitude the lack of oxygen can be fatal. However climbers and guides have blamed a host of factors for the deaths. Ghimire, of the Department of Tourism, said the deaths were not because of congestion but due to bad weather and short summit windows. Nepal this year issued 381 permits to Everest, costing $11,000 each, an important source of income for the cash-strapped nation.
As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge for a second term, Nepal’s top industrialist and CG Corp Global chairman Binod Chaudhary has expressed the hope that the two countries will show a “renewed sense of commitment” to take the bilateral ties to a new height by forgetting the “unpleasant” developments witnessed in the recent past, like the 2015 economic blockade. Chaudhary, who was in New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi government-II, is confident that the Indian prime minister would take the “required decisive steps to transform Nepal”, saying it would be beneficial for India too. The billionaire businessman talked about the trade imbalance tilted towards India and wanted Modi to “correct” the situation, saying: “It requires a political leadership of different order. Modi has that courage.” “A prosperous Nepal will be beneficial for India,” said the chairman of CG Corp Global, which has more than 130 companies in diverse sectors, including financial services, energy, education, hospitality and real estate. “I hope there would be a renewed sense of commitment on part of both the governments to take the Nepal-India relationship to the new height, thereby concluding many critical bilateral projects of huge importance, which have not made progress. “Both countries need to forget the past and work for a different level of economic prosperity,” Chaudhary said. Asked what he meant by “forgetting the past”, Chaudhary referred to the 2015 Madeshi unrest, which was followed by the economic blockade of Nepal. “Things were moving on track, but the unfortunate events, like Madeshi unrest and blockade, happened and caused serious damage to the relations at people to people level. This has left an undesirable level of trust deficit and pain in many minds which, given the historic relationship of Nepal and India, needs to be corrected,” the billionaire businessman said. According to the top businessman, people in both countries have “now repaired the ties, but we lost four years in the process”. Underlining that a prosperous Nepal, with enhanced capacity to buy, will only benefit India, Chaudhary said: “India is a huge market in the eyes of the whole world. But as far as Nepal is concerned, it’s the other way round. Nepal has two-third market share for goods from India, while Nepalese exports to India are limited and not growing as it should.” This caused trade imbalance in favour of India, Chaudhary said, adding one of the ways to address it was cooperation in the power sector. Talking about possibilities in the energy sector, he said: “Nepal is in an unfortunate situation by having to buy power instead of selling... There is potential for generation of 100,000 megawatts of power in Nepal. Instead, Nepal buys 500 megawatts from India.” According to the top businessman, India should help build power plants of at least 20,000-30,000 megawatts in Nepal. “It’s in India’s interest to see Nepal become an example in the neighbourhood of a country, which contributes to the Indian economy through supply of power, energy several agro-based raw material, including trustworthy and hardworking man power,” the billionaire businessman said.
Ameesha Chauhan, a survivor of the Everest “traffic jam” who is in hospital recovering from frostbite, said climbers without basic skills should be barred to prevent a recurrence of this year’s deadly season on the world’s highest peak. Eleven people have died in little more than two weeks after poor weather cut the climbing window, leaving mountaineers waiting in long queues to the summit, risking exhaustion and running out of oxygen. Nepal issued a record 381 Everest permits this season, and several hundred of the summiteers are not properly trained, take poor decisions and “put their own life in risk and also the Sherpa guides”, Chauhan said. The 29-year-old Indian had to wait 20 minutes to come down from the 8,848m (29,029ft) peak, but others were held up for hours. “I saw some climbers without basic skills fully relying on their Sherpa guides. The government should fix the qualification criteria,” she told AFP in Kathmandu’s general hospital, all the toes on her left foot black and blue and her face weather-worn. “Only trained climbers should be granted the permit to climb Everest.” As well as the Everest deaths, nine climbers have died on other 8,000m Himalayan peaks, while one is missing. At least four deaths on the world’s highest mountain have been blamed on overcrowding with teams waiting sometimes for hours in the “death zone” where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous. This year’s Everest toll is the highest since 2014-15 when huge earthquakes triggered devastating avalanches. The crowding was laid bare in a photo taken last week by Nirmal Purja, a former Gurkha soldier, of a long queue of climbers snaking up to the summit. The photo by the head of the Project Possible charity aiming to climb the fourteen 8,000m-plus peaks in the world in seven months has gone viral from his @nimsdai Twitter handle and highlighted the dangers amidst the mania to climb Everest. “Many climbers’ oxygen was running out,” Chauhan said. “Some climbers died due to their own negligence. They insisted on reaching the top even if their oxygen is running out, which risks their life,” she said. Another climber, the “adventure filmmaker” Elia Saikaly, posted on Instagram on Sunday that he had reached the summit of Everest and “cannot believe what I saw up there”. “Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies,” Saikaly wrote. “Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night.” Mountaineering has become big business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953, with the mountain becoming a favourite “bucket list” feat. Nepal’s permits this season cost $11,000 each, providing the impoverished Himalayan country with much-needed foreign currency. At least 140 others were granted permits to climb from the northern flank in Tibet. Although final numbers are yet to be released with the season set to wrap up this week, this could take the total past last year’s record of 807 people reaching the summit. The dead included four climbers from India and one each from the United States, Britain and Nepal. An Irish mountaineer is presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit. Another Austrian and an Irish climber died on the northern Tibet side. One of the Indians who died on the Nepal side, 27-year-old Nihal Bagwan, had to wait for more than 12 hours and died on his way back from the summit. Donald Lynn Cash, 55, collapsed at the summit as he was taking photographs, while Anjali Kulkarni, also 55, died while descending after reaching the top. Kulkarni’s expedition organiser, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit had delayed her descent and caused the tragedy. “She had to wait for a long time to reach the summit and descend,” said Thupden Sherpa. “She couldn’t move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down.”
Four bodies have been retrieved from Everest and some 10 tonnes of garbage plucked from the mountain at the end of this year’s climbing season, Nepal authorities said yesterday. Global warming means melting glaciers are revealing human remains and rubbish, which has gathered over decades of commercial mountaineering and as an increasing number of big-spending climbers who pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. The four bodies were brought down by helicopter last week according to media reports. Dandu Raj Ghimire of Nepal’s tourism department said they were being identified. The 14-strong team sent by the government spent about six weeks scouring for litter at base camp and at Camp 4 – nearly 8,000m up – scraping together empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear. “We have reached our target this season... we hope we are able to continue what we have started,” Ghimire said. Army helicopters and porters transported the refuse down to Namche Bazar, the last major town on the route to Mount Everest. Authorities said some of it will be sent to Kathmandu for recycling. Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848m (29,029ft) peak. “We need to run this programme for few more years, especially at the higher camps, to make the mountain clean,” said Pasang Nuru Sherpa, the clean-up team’s leader. Governments on both sides of the mountain have been battling the human waste and trash left by an increasing number of climbers. Six years ago, Nepal implemented a $4,000 rubbish deposit per team that would be refunded if each climber brought down at least 8kg (18 pounds) of waste, but only half of the climbers return with their trash. In February, China banned non-climbers from accessing its Everest base camp in Tibet in an attempt to clean up its side of the mountain. Hundreds of climbers reached the summit this season, and the total could go past last year’s record of 807 ascents.
Three people were killed and six others injured yesterday in two separate explosions in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, and police said they suspected a Maoist splinter group may have been responsible. Police official Shyam Lal Gyawali said: “We have three fatalities in two incidents of explosions but the nature of (the) blasts is under investigation.” One person was killed in an explosion inside a house in the Ghattekulo residential area in the heart of the city. “I heard a big noise and rushed to the spot to find the walls of a house had developed cracks due to the impact of the blast,” 17-year-old student Govinda Bhandari told Reuters at the site of the first blast. The second blast took place near a hairdresser’s in the Sukedhara area on the outskirts of the city. Two people were killed in this blast, police said. All six injured have been rushed to hospitals. A Reuters photographer at the site of the second blast said it had shattered the door and window panes of the shop and the area had been sealed off by the army. Gyawali, the police official, said they suspect the blasts may have been the work of a splinter group of former Maoist rebels who are opposed to the government for arresting its supporters. “A pamphlet from the group has been found at the site of the first blast,” Gyawali said. The house was used to make improvised or crude explosive devices by activists from the group, he said, adding one of the injured people was a supporter. Nepal emerged from a decade-long Maoist civil war in 2006 and the main group of the former rebels has joined the party that runs the government now. The breakaway group of former rebels carried out a similar blast in Kathmandu in February in which one person was killed and two others were injured. An army spokesman said a bomb disposal team had been rushed to nearby Lalitpur area after reports of a suspicious pressure cooker fitted with tape was seen near a bus park. No one has claimed responsibility for blasts.
Three people were killed and six others injured on Sunday in two separate explosions in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, and police said they suspected a Maoist splinter group may have been responsible. Police official Shyam Lal Gyawali said: ‘We have three fatalities in two incidents of explosions but the nature of (the) blasts is under investigation.’ One person was killed in an explosion inside a house in the Ghattekulo residential area in the heart of the city. ‘I heard a big noise and rushed to the spot to find the walls of a house had developed cracks due to the impact of the blast,’ 17-year-old student Govinda Bhandari told Reuters at the site of the first blast. The second blast took place near a hairdresser's in the Sukedhara area on the outskirts of the city. Two people were killed in this blast, police said. All six injured have been rushed to hospitals. A Reuters photographer at the site of the second blast said it had shattered the door and window panes of the shop and the area had been sealed off by the army. Gyawali, the police official, said they suspect the blasts may have been the work of a splinter group of former Maoist rebels who are opposed to the government for arresting its supporters. ‘A pamphlet from the group has been found at the site of the first blast,’ Gyawali said. The house was used to make improvised or crude explosive devices by activists from the group, he said, adding one of the injured people was a supporter. Nepal emerged from a decade-long Maoist civil war in 2006 and the main group of the former rebels has joined the party that runs the government now. The breakaway group of former rebels carried out a similar blast in Kathmandu in February in which one person was killed and two others were injured. An army spokesman said a bomb disposal team had been rushed to nearby Lalitpur area after reports of a suspicious pressure cooker fitted with tape was seen near a bus park. No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's blasts.