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A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.

- John James Audubon

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News

Sep 30, 2015

Nepal considers age, experience and disability restrictions for Everest

Nepal Tourism says Everest could be banned for inexperienced and physically disabled climbers; proposes an age limit of 18-75 yrs.

WRITTEN BY

Supriya Vohra

Five months after disaster struck Nepal, the tourism officials are mulling over restriction criteria for those attempting Everest. They have cited “safety” and “glory of the mountain” as prime reasons, evoking a sharp response from young and veteran climbers around the globe.

According to Gobinda Bahadur Karkee, Director General of Department Tourism (MoCTCA), “We are in the process of making a set of criteria for Everest. We are trying to put an age limit, a minimum of 16 years, and maximum of 75 years. Very young and very old people should not attempt climbing the mountain. We also do not want disabled people, those that are completely blind or those without legs or arms to climb the mountain.”

“Most important, we cannot have inexperienced climbers attempting Everest. They must have climbed a peak of at least 6500m before they attempt Everest,” he told The Outdoor Journal over telephone.

“We have to value the tallest mountain in the world. Till now, anyone with money and permit from their country could attempt Everest. You have to be able to climb the mountain on your own, and not by holding hands of your guide.”

Asked if a mountaineer was involved in setting the criteria, he said, “No not yet. But we might consult them in future.”

The proposal was announced around the time when Japanese climber Nobokazu Kuriki decided to abandon his attempt to summit Everest, after reaching the final camp last Saturday (26th September). According to his Facebook updates, “….it took too much time to move in deep deep snow. I realized if I kept going, I wouldn’t be able to come back alive, so I decided to descend.”

The climber was making a summit push alone without oxygen.

While there is a general agreement on the need for regulation (approx 600 climbers attempt Everest every year) and not allowing novices to attempt the peak, the global mountaineering community has given a mixed response to the government’s proposal.

Elizabeth Hawley, an Everest chronicler based in Nepal told AFP, “I don’t think the government is in any position to judge someone’s capacities or draw that line for mountaineers.”

She further cited examples of physically disabled climbers who have summited Everest, including blind American Erik Weihenmayer who scaled the peak in May 2001 and seven years later, became the only visually-impaired person to summit the highest mountains on all seven continents.

For New Zealander Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to summit Everest in 2006 (he lost both his legs to frostbite), the officials should look at competency as criteria.

“The whole concept of restricting disabled – even the use of that word – is just wrong, because it really doesn’t matter how many limbs you’ve got, but how able you are.” he was quoted by NZHerald.

For Indian climber Arjun Vajpai, who in 2010 became the youngest in the world to summit Everest, it is a good move by the government to bring down the numbers on Everest. “It is a tricky situation for the government, they need to choose their criteria carefully,” he told The Outdoor Journal.

“I completely agree with Mr. Inglis that physical disability should not be a criteria to decide who gets to climb Everest, but the criteria about experience is important,” he said.

“As far as age is concerned, I think whoever attempts the big mountain needs to have done their mountaineering courses,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nepal Mountaineering Assocation (NMA) president Ang Tsering Sherpa seemed skeptical about the government’s proposal. In a report in The Guardian, ‘he said the new rules had been frequently discussed in the past’ adding “I doubt this will be implemented. Earlier such plans were aborted because of pressure from human rights organisations and foreign embassies.”

Everest has been a subject of criticism and controversy for several years now. A peak that was once attempted only by established mountaineers gradually became a commercial venture, where anyone with basic ice axe and crampons and assistance from Sherpas could climb the big mountain. Nepal’s government has proposed measures in the past to make climbing safer, which included changing the route and raising insurance for Sherpas by 50%.

Feature Image: From Everest Base Camp April 2015 after the earthquake (http://6summitschallenge.com/)

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

 

“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”

 

For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

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