Mount Everest: Nepal Bans Solo Mountain Climbs

As of Monday, foreign climbers in Nepal — including those scaling Mount Everest — must be accompanied by a guide and people who are blind or a double amputee will not be able to climb at all, following a revision of the country's mountaineering regulations.

It is unclear whether the government will allow foreign guides with a climbing license to make solo bids or act as a climbing guide, according to The Kathmandu Post newspaper. Nepal's Tourism Secretary Maheshwor Neupane said the law had been revised to make climbing safer and decrease the number of deaths. More than 290 people have died while attempting to scale Everest, the world's highest peak.

Human rights concerns

The ban is likely to anger elite solo mountaineers, who enjoy the challenge of climbing alone, even without bottled oxygen, and who blame a huge influx of commercial expeditions for creating potentially deadly bottlenecks on the world's tallest mountain. Some officials have expressed concern that imposing the ban on people with disabilities could qualify as discrimination, the Post reported.

New Zealander Mark Inglis, who lost both his legs to frostbite, became the first double amputee to reach the top of the 8,848-meter (29,029-foot) peak in 2006. Blind American Erik Weihenmayer scaled Everest in May 2001 and later became the only visually impaired person to summit the highest peaks on all seven continents.

Thousands of mountaineers flock to Nepal — home to eight of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 meters — each spring and autumn when clear weather provides good climbing conditions. Almost 450 climbers, 190 foreigners and 259 Nepalis, reached the summit of Everest from the south side in Nepal last year.