Ascending the mountains

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-Ninam Lowatti

Why do people travel far away from their homeland and risk their life to ascend world's highest peaks? Or, why does anyone climb up a mountain? It requires deep thoughts to get answers to these questions.

This season many Nepali as well as foreign mountaineers have started seeking permit to climb various peaks of Nepal. According to sources, for this winter season, 42 mountaineers from different nationalities have acquired permit to ascend various mountains.

Why do people risk their life to climb mountains? Why do tourists spend thousands of dollars to visit the Himalayan region? Mountaineer and Geographer Dr Harka Gurung says, "Human chases mystery as an animal goes after it's prey. Human civilization relies upon investigation. While intellectual curiosity of man sprouts religion and science, physical energy results in pyramids and The Great Wall of China. Children's envy towards an eagle's flight shows how strong will turns into competition."

Mountaineering is also a result of people's will to rise above culturally. Mountain is the most hidden secret of nature where clouds play hide and seek and land meets the sky. Mountains are perceived as god as well as demon by people, as it is beyond human experience. Mountains are regarded as a symbol of purity whereas, Mount Vesuvius is symbol of holocaust. According to Mahabharat Yudhistir climbed up to heaven from the summit of a mountain. Kirat Mahadev played in our mountains. People find themselves petty in front of vast Himalayas.

As Harka Gurung writes in his book, every year thousands of foreign mountaineers come to Nepal. Foreign mountaineers are 99% more in number than Nepali mountaineers. Nepali mountaineers have a long way to go till they become professional mountaineers. Foreign mountaineers pay a lumpsum of royalty to the government to climb mountains. Nepal is very fortunate to have the highest peak Mt. Everest along with 10 other peaks that are higher than 8 thousand meters. These mountains are free gift from nature to us.

According to Gurung, back in 1959/60 A.D. every European mountaineer paid only 6 thousand Nepali Rupees. This scenario has changed. Nowadays, a foreign mountaineer pays 11 thousand American dollar to ascend mountains. Extra expenses are also not less. Effects of COVID-19 has not fade yet. In spite of that Nepali mountains did not remain vacant. In last year's winter season only, many mountaineers came to Nepal with the desire to climb 53 different mountains. But the summit of 27 mountains were only conquered by the mountaineers.
Last year total of 72 crore 66 lakh 83 thousand rupees of royalty amount was collected by the government. This year also it is expected to collect a large amount of royalty from foreign mountaineers.

Recently 'Clickmandu Online' published a news about 505 mountaineers who have already acquired permit by Chaitra 25. More mountaineers will also join the race, so sound income can be expected this year.

We have more than 1 thousand 7 hundred mountains that are above snowline. But government has only open 4 hundred 14 mountains for mountaineers. A certain amount must be paid by mountaineers in order to get a permit to climb them.

Till now 4 hundred and 14 mountains are open but the highest peak Mt. Everest, third highest Kanchanjunga, forth highest Lhotse, fifth highest Makalu, sixth highest Cho oyu, seventh highest Dhaulagiri, eighth highest Manaslu and tenth highest Annapurna attracts more climbers. Likewise many mountaineers visit Nepal to climb mountains that are 7 thousand meters or less, like Nupche, Pumori, Kirat Chuli, Nilgiri, Bhrikuti, Dhampus, Langtang etc.

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