Nepal’s biggest alpine association is pushing the government to apply an age limit on who can climb world’s highest mountain following the death of an 85-year-old man, who was trying to be the oldest person to conquer Mountain Everest. The climber suffered a heart attack ascending the mountain.
Min Bahadur Sherchan once the oldest man to reach the top of the mountain at the age of 76 was preparing to ascend to the 29,029ft summit to reclaim his record, which was broken in 2013 by a Japanese climber who was then 80.
Sherchan’s death refocused attention on imposing age-limits on Everest climbers, who need to be able to handle harsh conditions like low levels of oxygen, and below freezing temperatures on their way to the top.
There is already a ban on climbers younger than 16, but there is no rule yet on how old a person can be to ascend Everest.
“It is very necessary to immediately bring that age limit law. If there had been a limit, the loss of life could have been prevented,” Ang Tshering, head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said.
“It’s been a decade since we have been advocating for the age limit, 16 years to 76 years,” he said.
Nepal already proposed a set of tighter regulations on Mt. Everest back in 2015, but the measures were never implemented. The rules included age limits for climbers of between 18 and 75 and allowed permits only to those who can walk on their own. Those rules also required providing proof of previous scaled mountains in order to get a permit for Everest.
“We cannot let everyone go on Everest and die. If they are not physically and mentally fit it will be like a legal suicide,” Nepal’s tourism minister Kripasur Sherpa said.
However the rules for Everest climbing—which is the centerpiece of Nepal’s $360 million trekking-and tourism industry—were never implemented. Some veteran mountaineers are reportedly complaining that the mountain is becoming overcrowded and some climbers are noticeably unprepared.
Nepal has issued about 376 permits to foreigners this year, the highest number since the 1950s, the Guardian reports.
Sherchan’s death is the second fatality of this year’s climbing season which runs between April and May.