The Nepalese government said Thursday that climbing on Mount Everest would resume by next week. The decision comes despite the death of 18 mountaineers in an earthquake-triggered avalanche on the world’s largest peak.
The Saturday avalanche also destroyed base camps and climbing equipment in the mountain’s treacherous higher areas, but tourism department chief Tulasi Gautam said repairs were underway.
“The ladders will be repaired in the next two to three days and climbing will continue, there is no reason for anyone to quit their expedition,” Gautam told Agence France-Presse. The avalanche was triggered by a massive earthquake that has left over 5,500 dead and devastated the country’s infrastructure.
The most seriously wounded among those at the base camp were evacuated by helicopters, and scores of people who were trapped higher up on the mountain were also rescued. Gautam reportedly said that the government had taken into account requests from climbers and guides that they were eager to resume climbing. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake had injured over 60 mountaineers.
“There is no scientific reason to expect another quake ... and we feel the ground is stable enough for climbing despite aftershocks,” he told the AFP.
Nepal had previously stopped renewing permits after another avalanche last year killed 16 indigenous sherpa guides, prompting the country to shut down Everest expeditions. Kathmandu ended that ban in March and said it would allow mountaineers to use their permits until 2019. Nepal draws about $2.7 million in fees from climbers each year from its mountaineering industry.