Trekkers, mountaineers head for the Himalayas as spring begins

Spring is here and hordes of adventure seekers from around the world have embarked on treks in the Himalayan foothills or high-altitude climbing on the frozen peaks. Travel trade entrepreneurs said that since the last two weeks there has been a large movement of trekkers and mountaineers to different destinations to experience extreme adventure activities.
And it has kept the whole travel trade industry busy. As the minimum length of stay of trekkers and mountaineers is seven days and the maximum over a month, entrepreneurs said that
big hotels, airlines, restaurants and even potters have been busy cashing in on the season.
As per government statistics, 12-15 percent of the total tourist arrivals come for extreme adventure activities like high-altitude hiking and climbing. Travel trade entrepreneurs said that cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels and outdoor clothing shops in the tourist district of Thamel were crowded with tourists. “It has been a very busy spring for Thamel since the last two weeks,” said Suraj Gurung of Hankook Sarang, a Korean restaurant in Thamel. “From restaurants to cafes and clothing shops to grocery stores, all are busy here.”
The March-May period in Nepal is best for trekking and mountaineering as it offers the best weather condition with occasional rainfall. The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal has expected the number of trekkers will rise this season given the current positive booking trends. Meanwhile, the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) said that the number of mountaineers this season was likely to increase slightly.
“Based on current permit issuance trends to climb Everest, we have projected that the number of climbers to the world highest peak will remain the same as last year,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, chairman of  Asian Trekking. “However, we are expecting a slight increase in the number of mountaineers to other peaks.”
Around 3,005 foreign climbers came to Nepal for expedition purposes last spring, and among them, 2,225 climbed NMA managed peaks, while 780 climbed peaks managed by the government. The government issued 30 permits to various expeditions consisting of 325 climbers to climb Everest last spring.
Out of them, only 178 or 55 percent succeeded in scaling the world’s highest peak. The number of Nepali high-altitude Sherpa climbers who climbed Everest amounted to 222 in spring 2012. The government manages peaks of 7,000-8,000 m while the NMA manages the 33 popular peaks ranging from 5,587 to 6,654 m.
Sherpa said that between 1953 and spring 2012, the total number of ascents of Everest reached 6,149 and 3,755 persons had scaled the peak. Last spring, 45 Indian nationals succeeded in climbing Everest, followed by 40 Americans, 19 Britons, 10 Canadians, 10 Chileans, five Germans and four Australians, among others.  Although the weather did not favour Everest climbers last spring, Sherpa said that ascents might begin from the first week of May this year. “Aspiring Everest climbers have started acclimatizing, and a number of them will reach Everest Base Camp by the first week of April,” he said. Rope fixing work at the Khumbu Icefall is likely to happen soon, and Everest ascents are likely to begin soon this year, he added.
Last spring, the first team reached Everest on May 18 due to a small weather window. Ropes were fixed at the icefall on April 15 last spring. “There was plenty of snowfall this winter which is likely to make Everest ascents easier this season.” Airline officials said that two major airports with tourist importance—Lukla and Pokhara—become busy mostly during the spring. They are the gateways to Everest and Annapurna respectively.

Source: The Kathmandu Post

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