The Nepal government on Monday said it is contemplating hiking the royalty fee to obtain permission to climb Mount Everest by USD 4,000 to USD 15,000, effective from 2025.
Presently, foreign climbers seeking to conquer the world’s tallest mountain, standing at 8,848.86 metres, are required to pay a royalty fee of USD 11,000. Nepali climbers are subject to a fee of NRs 75,000. The government last revised the royalty fee in January 2015.
“The Department of Tourism has proposed a new royalty fee of USD 15,000 per foreign national desirous to climb Mt Everest from 2025,” department spokesperson Yuvaraj Khatiwada said.
The new fee will be applicable once the proposal is endorsed by the Cabinet.
The current fee structure enables any foreign climber to ascend Mt Everest from the South Face (Nepal side) upon payment of USD 11,000.
Prior to 2015, group expeditions, consisting of a maximum of 15 members, incurred a cost of USD 10,000 per person. However, the group provision was later dropped, and a uniform fee of USD 11,000 per foreign climber was implemented.
The government is also introducing a new regulation mandating expedition agencies to retrieve deceased climbers’ bodies from the mountain. This measure addresses the growing concern of bodies being left on the mountain despite having insurance coverage.
The high cost and complexity of arranging body retrieval from high altitudes have prompted this enforcement of an existing provision in mountaineering rules.
Tragic incidents on Everest have highlighted the importance of these measures.
In this year’s spring climbing season alone, 17 climbers lost their lives while attempting the ascent from the Nepal side.
Notable among past disasters was the April 2014 avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Nepali Sherpa guides. Subsequently, in the following year, Nepal experienced a devastating earthquake that triggered an avalanche at the Everest base camp, resulting in the death of 20 individuals.
Removing bodies from higher camps is expensive and difficult because of the danger of the rarefied atmosphere. It may cost USD 20,000 to USD 200,000 to bring down a dead body from extreme points, according to a report in The Kathmandu Post newspaper.
Quoting Rakesh Gurung, director of the mountaineering section of the Department of Tourism, the report said the insurance, salaries and other facilities of porters, high-altitude workers and guides would also be increased along with the climbing fee.
He said foreign agencies operating expeditions in Nepal would have to make their transactions and businesses formal. There are currently no records of what foreign agencies charge their clients to climb Everest and other peaks.
“Since some agencies have already taken bookings for expeditions in 2024, we have given them time so that their business will not be affected,” Gurung was quoted as saying in the report.
The Nepal government collected USD 5.08 million in revenue from Mt Everest alone this spring climbing season, the report said.