Nepal to extend permits of 2015 Everest climbers

KATHMANDU, Nepal - Nepal has extended the permits of climbers who were unable to climb Mount Everest last year due to an earthquake-triggered avalanche that killed 19 people at a base camp in hopes of bringing back western climbers to the world's highest peak.

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Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said Tuesday that the climbers can attempt to climb the world's tallest peak this year or next year without paying new fees.

The April 25 earthquake last year killed thousands of people in Nepal and triggered a massive avalanche at the base camp that forced climbers to abandon their climbs.

Climbers have to pay $11,000 each for a climbing permit from the Nepalese government, which is generally valid for one season that runs from March to May.

Sixteen people were killed by an avalanche that swept the climbing route in 2014 and another 19 died in 2015 when the earthquake-triggered avalanche buried the base camp in the two worst natural disasters on Everest.

The back-to-back disasters have been worrying for Nepal, which earns millions of dollars from permit fees in an industry that employs tens of thousands of people like guides, porters and equipment suppliers.

"It is a welcome move from the government that we hope will help bring back the climbers to the mountains," said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

Expedition companies that guide and equip the climbers were happy with the decision.

"We are encouraged by the permit extension. This will help the local climbing businesses to once again get back on their feet after two bad years," said Temba Tsheri of the Sherpa Khagri Outdoors agency in Kathmandu, who lost three foreign clients and two local workers last year.

Since Everest was conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay in 1953, the peak has been climbed by thousands of people, but hundreds have also died on its unpredictable slopes.



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