Monthly Archives: December 2016

TAAN unveils Rs100m development, promotional plan

Posted on: 30 Dec, 2016

 

The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (Taan) has earmarked nearly Rs100 million to explore new trekking trails and maintain and improve the existing paths besides promoting trekking in the domestic and international markets.

According to Taan, Rs8.79 million has been set aside for infrastructural development, maintenance and promotion of the existing trekking trails.

“We have selected trails from the Kanchenjunga region in eastern Nepal to Api Himal in far western Nepal,” said Lila Baldab Dahal, treasurer of Taan. “Taan will build the necessary infrastructure, enhance the capacity of locals so that they can cater to tourists, and produce promotional collateral to publicize the trails in the national and international markets.”

The umbrella association of Nepal’s trekking agencies has selected 63 trails for maintenance, infrastructure development and promotion. It will be spending Rs9 million on the exploration of new trekking trails.

According to Dahal, Taan will be exploring the Lamjung-Dudhpokhari, North Annapurna Base Camp from Lete, Sailung-Timal, Gaja Hill (Jogimara-Shaktikhor), Round Ramechhap and Chatara-Mainamini trails in the current fiscal year.

“The trails have been selected as per the request of local communities,” he said. Similarly, Taan will conduct mapping of the Hillary Trail (Ramechhap Chyama Danda to Lete) and Lower Solu.

Building a tourism memorial park in Timal, setting up mobile washrooms in tourist bus parks, developing cycling trails, installing solar street lights in Thamel, constructing a bridge over Mardi Khola and implementing the Khaptad Development Programme are some of the schemes that Taan will be starting in the current fiscal year. It is also building weather information centres in major trekking areas, a mountaineering school in Dhading and porter shelters in Gorkha besides implementing a trekking trail development programme in Api Himal in far western Nepal and Dhaulagiri Sanctuary.

According to Dahal, Taan is also building short trekking trails on the Kathmandu Valley rim. “To begin with, we will be developing the Thankot-Dahachok-Ramkot-Sitapaila trail,” he added.

It has also accorded priority to developing a new trekking trail in Sankhuwasabha. The trail starts at Amrang and passes through Lower Walung, Upper Walung, Ale Danda, Tashijongtar, Eyuwakhola and Mera Base Camp before ending at Makalu Base Camp. “We have allocated Rs1.6 million for the project,” added Dahal.

Taan is also building porter shelters in Damodar Kunda, Larkya Pass, Kagmara Base Camp and Lumbasumba trekking trail.

Under the tourism marketing and promotion plan in the international market, Taan said it had allocated Rs2.4 million for the US, Rs3.2 million for Russia, Rs2 million for South Asia, Rs800,000 each for the Middle East and Australia and Rs1.2 million for the Asian market.

It has also set aside Rs2.4 million to organize a cycling competition on the Lukla-Salleri-Patale-Okhaldhunga-Sindhuligadhi-Namobuddha-Dhulikhel route. Similarly, Rs1.2 million has been earmarked to promote the overland way to Everest (Kavre-Namobuddha-Sindhuli-Sindhuligadhi-Khotang Halesi-Okhaldhunga-Siddhicharan Park-Okhaldhunga-Salleri-Surke-Chaurikharka-Everest Base Camp).

THE KATHMANDU POST

China’s Trek to Conquering Everest

Posted on: 23 December 2016
Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world, sitting at 29,029 feet, roughly 5.5 miles above sea level. Though the south side of Everest is located in Nepal, about 100 miles from Kathmandu, the north side of Everest lies within the Tibet Autonomous Region and is governed by China. Earlier this year, China finished construction on a paved road up to Everest’s north side base camp, bordering on a 14,000 foot elevation gain. This was the first step in a larger commercialization goal for the Chinese in Tibet. China has proposed plans to commercialize the north side of Everest by 2019 in order to make the mountain more accessible, according to China Daily, China’s state-run news site. With this move, China may further divide the Everest region, already struggling from political tensions and rapid urbanization. China’s success in this venture will rely on the incorporation of environmental, cultural and approved mountaineering practice.

Traditionally, Nepal has been the preferred route to Mt. Everest because of its political stability, slightly warmer climate, less severe elements and helicopter rescue capabilities, as well as government policies that offer access to the site However, recent issues with overcrowding and growing litter on Everest’s south side has provided China new opportunities to become more competitive in the mountaineering market, as pointed out by Tsechu Dolma, a Nepali and frequent contributor to GlacierHub. With this recent development, China hopes to bolster the local tourism and mountaineering industry in Tibet, which China claims would have positive impacts on local economies and accessibility. This includes plans for a 84,320 square meter mountaineering center in Gangkar worth $14.7 million (100 million yuan) that would contain hotels, restaurants, a mountaineering museum, a search-and-rescue base and other services.

“These jobs should and would go to locals,” Jamie McGuinness, owner of Project Himalaya, points out to GlacierHub. “With the approximate 5,000 meter altitude, other ethnic groups cannot handle living there. Initially, it could be that some of the locals would lose some business briefly; however, over time more income would be generated for everyone.”

Rongbuk Monastery, Tibet: home to 30 Buddhist monks and nuns

Rongbuk Monastery, Tibet: home to 30 Buddhist monks and nuns

Increasing search-and-rescue capabilities will also help to reduce risks notorious to the mountain. Summiting attempts cater to a very small portion of the population capable of extreme athleticism. Despite climbers’ skill, Everest attempts still pose a huge risk to all involved, especially the local Sherpas who face higher risks due to increased exposure. Having an established mountaineering center may prove beneficial if the north side of Everest becomes the more preferred route for summiting attempts. Climbing risks can be reduced by having well-funded search-and-rescue teams. This might help avoid tragedies like the one in 2014 when an ice avalanche from the Khumbu glacier in Nepal claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas.

Having spent the last 25 years trekking through the Himalayas, McGuinness says, “Nepal is lucky that so many expeditions still climb from the obviously more dangerous icefall route, the price of which is roll-of-the-dice deaths. Climbing Everest from the north is significantly less dangerous, and the day or reckoning is coming within the next few years.” The switch needs to happen, McGuinness added, but whether Sherpas and guides climb from the north or from the south, they will still get paid.

As climates continue to change, increased temperatures experienced in Nepal could expand dangers posed to climbers and Sherpas. The Khumbu Glacier, for example, regularly calves, causing large and deadly ice chunks to fall along climbing routes. The 2014 ice avalanche that killed the 16 Sherpas was the size of a ten-story building. The Khumbu glacier greatly increases the risks from summiting in Nepal and these risks may only increase as climates continue to shift. Continue reading