Foreign solo climbers are now banned from Mount Everest after the Nepalese government voted for stringent new safety rules after concerns over the number of deaths on the world's highest mountain.
The amendment to the the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation under the Tourism Act means that, from 2018, it will be mandatory for foreign climbers to be with guides, normally registered Nepali high-altitude guides or climbers, on Everest and the surrounding mountains. The move will provide more jobs for Nepalis and ensure the safety of foreign climbers.
The new rules also ban the blind, double amputees and those without both arms and legs from making bids on Everest, although this has been met with accusations of discrimination. Numerous disabled people have reached the summit, including blind American Erik Weihenmayer in 2001 and double amputee Mark Inglis from New Zealand in 2006.
After the Cabinet's Bill Committee approved the amendment on Thursday (28 December), Tourism Secretary Maheswor Neupane told the Kathmandu Post: "The mountaineering regulation has been amended to improve safety of the climbers and has delegated more power to the Department of Tourism to function independently. It has also ensured the rights of high-altitude Nepali guides and climbers."
He added: "We have also adopted a strict provision to check the medical certificate of the climbers to determine whether they are physically fit to climb the mountains."
At least 265 people have died on Mount Everest since 1922, and the last year without any fatalities was 1977.
This year, Everest had a deadly May weekend when four people died in the space of just two days. Indian climber Ravi Kumar's body was found on Monday 22 May after he fell around 200 metres below the route. Roland Yearwood, Vladimir Strba and Francesco Enrico Marchetti, from the US, Slovakia and Australia respectively, all died from issues relating to altitude sickness.