Nepal mulls minimum Everest criteria after deadly season

Light illuminates Mount Everest, center, during sunset in Solukhumbu district, also known as the Everest region. (Reuters)
Updated 14 August 2019

Nepal mulls minimum Everest criteria after deadly season

  • Report recommended minimum standards for climbers, expedition organizers as well as guides and government liaison officers involved in Nepal’s lucrative mountaineering industry
  • Nine of the 11 deaths were on the Nepal side of Everest, and at least four of the deaths this season were blamed on overcrowding

KATMANDU: Climbers wanting to take on Mount Everest will first have to tackle another Nepal mountain of at least 6,500 meters (21,325 feet) under new proposals by a committee seeking to improve safety on the world’s highest peak.
The requirement is being proposed after a deadly traffic-clogged season saw 11 climbers die on Everest, which some experts blamed on inexperience.
“These recommendations have been made to ensure the quality and safety of Nepal’s mountaineering tourism,” Ghanshyam Upadhayay, tourism ministry official and head of the committee told AFP.
The committee also proposed a fee of at least $35,000 for Everest and $20,000 for other mountains over 8,000 meters, amid criticism that cost-cutting by expedition organizers was jeopardizing climbers’ safety.
The 59-page report recommended minimum standards for climbers, expedition organizers as well as guides and government liaison officers involved in Nepal’s lucrative mountaineering industry.
“We will take this forward by amending the laws and regulations... we will make our mountains safe, managed and dignified,” Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattari told reporters.
For years, Katmandu has issued Everest permits to anyone willing to pay $11,000, regardless of whether they were rookie climbers or skilled mountaineers.
This year record 885 people climbed Everest, 644 of them from the south and 241 from the northern flank in Tibet.
Nine of the 11 deaths were on the Nepal side, and at least four of the deaths this season were blamed on overcrowding.
A traffic jam forced teams to wait for hours in freezing temperatures to reach Everest’s 8,848-meter (29,029 feet) summit and then descend, increasing the risk of frostbite, altitude sickness and exhaustion from depleted oxygen levels.
But experts say the bigger killer was inexperience among a new wave of ill-prepared mountaineer tourists.
“This is a good opportunity to improve the sector. If we want things to change the suggestions have to be implemented,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, who was also part of the committee.
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, and foreign climbers that flock to its mountains are a major source of revenue for the country.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 25 August 2019

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.