Everest toll reaches 13; three still missing

The death toll in the deadliest avalanche on Mt Everest today reached 13 with rescuers recovering one more body of a mountaineering guide from the incident site this afternoon. Officials said the chance of finding three more, who have gone […]

Tour operators expect more tourists this season

Spring marks the onset of the tourist season in Bhutan and with it begins preparations. And unlike in the past, flight booking and shortage of hotels are no longer problem for the tour operators, and the number of hotels catering […]

Nepal envoy promotes Himalayan attractions

The Embassy of Nepal felicitated Prince Bandar bin Khalid bin Fahd at a function held in Riyadh recently and took the opportunity to promote tourism in the Himalayan Kingdom. Prince Bandar, who scaled Mt. Everest on May 19, 2012, praised […]

Adventure gear sales up as peak season arrives

The trekking and mountaineering season is on, and shops dealing in adventure gear in Kathmandu’s tourist district Thamel have brought out a wide range of climbing equipment and accessories. A large number of foreign tourists and local adventure seekers have […]

Ganesh Himal-Manaslu Development Project Launched

Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) and SAMARTH/Nepal Market Development Program (NMDP) have signed and exchanged Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for tourism development in Ganesh Himal (Ruby Valley) Region in Dhading and Manaslu Region in Gorkha district. TAAN President Ramesh […]

 

Everest avalanche: Search mission called off citing ‘too much risk’

Search operation for three Sherpa guides missing in the Everest avalanche has been called off due to ‘too much risk’ involved. A meeting of expedition operating agencies and guide associations on Saturday night decided not to conduct the search mission, saying it was almost “impossible” to retrieve the three remaining bodies buried underneath the snow.

Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, secretary at the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association, said the bodies were buried around 80-100 metres deep into the snow. “It is impossible to retrieve the bodies due to heavy block of ice on the site,” he said, adding that continuous snowfall in the region has compounded the situation.

Sixteen high-altitude Sherpa guides, including base camp cooks, had perished in the avalanche on Friday morning, the deadliest mountaineering accident ever on the world’s highest peak. So far, 13 bodies have been retrieved. Out of the nine injured, seven sustaining serious injuries are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the Capital.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Mountaineering Association  has arranged a funeral procession of the deceased mountaineers on Monday.  The NMA and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal have decided to extend Rs 50,000 in financial assistance to families of the deceased and Rs 35,000 each for the injured. The Expedition Operators’ Association has announced Rs 25,000 for each of the bereaved families and Rs 15,000 for the injured.

On Sunday, mountaineering and guide agencies decided to suspend all climbing activities for the next seven days. Declaring this year as ‘Black Everest year’, they are unsure whether to continue with Everest expeditions this season. “We will wait for a week to decide whether the spring expedition should be continued,” said Pasang Tenzing Sherpa. A technical committee headed by Dawa Stephen Sherpa has been tasked to look into the matter.

“The committee will make a decision based on the safety and security situation,” he said, adding that the associations would ask the government to refund the royalty fee paid by the climbers or allow them to climb the Everest with the same permit next season if the expeditions are called off this season.

More than 400 climbers have reached the Everest base camp to acclimatise themselves. Climbing begins in mid-May depending on the weather condition. Last year, of the 678 climbers who obtained permits, 567 reached the summit.

Source: ekantipur

Everest toll reaches 13; three still missing

The death toll in the deadliest avalanche on Mt Everest today reached 13 with rescuers recovering one more body of a mountaineering guide from the incident site this afternoon. Officials said the chance of finding three more, who have gone missing in the debris, alive, was almost nil as search continued in the Khumbu icefall area which was hit by an avalanche at 5,900 metres yesterday morning.Rescuers had recovered twelve bodies yesterday. According to Madhusudan Burlakoti, spokesperson at Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dorjee Khatri’s body was dug out and search for the missing is under way. “Pemba Tenji Sherpa, Aash Bahadur Gurung and Tenzing Chhotar Sherpa are still missing.” Six bodies of the deceased were airlifted to Kathmandu and handed over to their kin after post-mortem. Relatives received seven more bodies from Lukla area, Burlakoti said, adding that the four who were injured are undergoing treatment in hospitals in Kathmandu and are out of danger.Under-secretary at the ministry Krishna Lamsal told this daily from Everest Base Camp area that six icefall doctors and nearly 40 support staff of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee have headed to the avalanche site to refix the ladders and ropes damaged by the avalanche. “It’s uncertain how much time it will take to refix the ladders and ropes on the route,” he said, adding it might affect the summit schedule of climbers. According entrepreneurs, some foreigners are reconsidering their bid, owing to the death of their guide.
Helicopters of the Nepali Army and private companies are on standby to support the search and rescue mission. American Alpine Club said it has set up a fund to support the families of the deceased.
Source: The Himalayan Times

At least six dead in Everest avalanche

A deadly avalanche on Mount Everest is believed to have avoided any New Zealanders on the world’s tallest mountain.

Six Nepalese guides are dead and nine other people – believed to also be Nepali – are missing, a Nepal tourism official told the Associated Press (AP).

The avalanche struck just below Camp 2 around 6.30am today local time (12.45pm NZT), Nepal Tourism Ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti said.

Rescuers, climbers from base camp and a helicopter from Kathmandu have headed to the area to help.

The avalanche swept through the area known as the “popcorn field”, 6400 meters above sea level, AP reported.

A spokesperson for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the ministry was aware of the avalanche reports.

“The New Zealand Honorary Consul in Kathmandu has been liaising with the local authorities and base camp companies.

“There are no indications at this stage that any New Zealanders have been affected by the avalanche. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to monitor this situation.”

The ministry had 69 New Zealanders registered as being in Nepal.

Wanaka-based Adventure Consultants’ general manager Suze Kelly said the company had an expedition of climbers on Everest and were awaiting more information.

The expedition team should be safe at Everest Base Camp, however the company may have Sherpas higher up the mountain, she said.

“I’m just waiting on further updates to see if our teams are involved or not … it is the time of year when they are stocking the camps higher on the mountain, so no one actually stays on the mountain.

“Our main team has just arrived at Base Camp, so they are all in Base Camp. But there are Sherpas … who set-up camp with the loads that they carry.

“Other teams are on different schedules. There could be some teams who actually had some climbers on the mountain, but all our climbers are in Base Camp.”

New Zealand Mountain Guides Association chairman Steve Moffat said he was aware of New Zealanders being on the mountain, however they too were at Base Camp and weren’t due to ascend the mountain for at least another week.

More than 4000 climbers had scaled Everest’s summit since it was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Hundreds of others had died in the attempt.

source: APNZ

Tour operators expect more tourists this season

Spring marks the onset of the tourist season in Bhutan and with it begins preparations.

And unlike in the past, flight booking and shortage of hotels are no longer problem for the tour operators, and the number of hotels catering for tourists has increased over the years, particularly in Thimphu and Paro.

The Association of Bhutanese Tour Operator’s executive director Sonam Dorji said that it was still difficult to get booking in the high-end hotels.

Currently, there are 75 tourist standard hotels in the country that are three-star and above. Paro has the highest number of hotels, resorts, and guesthouse (37), followed by Thimphu and Bumthang with 27 and 23 respectively. Construction of 63 tourist hotels is underway.

The five-day Paro tshechu that will begin from April 11 is expected to attract more tourists this year. At any rate, that’s what the tour operators are expecting. The Paro tshechu marks the onset of the tourist season in Bhutan.

Thimphu tshechu and Paro tshechu receive most tourists every year.

Yangphel tours and travels’ managing director Karma Lotey said tour operators are looking forward to a good season this year.

“There should be an increase in the number of tourists visiting compared with last spring,” he said. However, most tourists prefer to visit Bhutan in autumn.

“However, we need to capitalise more on lean season facilities,” said Karma Lotey.

Most hotels in Paro and Thimphu are already booked with about 70 percent occupancy rate.

Last month, Drukair added about 11 additional flights. country.

Last year, 116,224 international and regional tourists visited Bhutan, an increase of about 10 percent or 10,810 tourists more than the previous year’s number.

Of the total arrivals, 44,267 were international or dollar-paying tourists and 8,531 under international business. The rest were regional tourists.

The highest number of tourists that visited Bhutan were the USA – 6,927, followed by China – 4764, Japan – 4015, and Thailand – 3494.

The tourism sector is second biggest revenue contributor after hydropower.

source: KuenselOnline

Tourism Min wants to take over stalled SIA

The Tourism Ministry has said that it will take ownership and control of the second international airport (SIA) project in Nijgadh as Investment Board Nepal has been sitting on the proposal for the past two years.

The SIA scheme envisions building a modern airport in the southern plains 175 km from Kathmandu as an alternative to congestion and winter fog at Tribhuvan International Airport, the country’s sole aerial gateway.

The multi-million dollar project had been assigned to Investment Board Nepal with a mandate to fast-track it under a single window. However, the board put it on the back burner.

Tourism Minister Bhim Acharya said they would bring the project back to the Tourism Ministry’s ownership as there has been no sign of progress in the country’s dream project under the board. “We have decided to take control of the project’s detailed feasibility study report which has been lying idle at the BOOT committee of the National Planning Commission,” Acharya said. “We will invite potential bidders for the project after we get the study report back.” However, board officials say that none of the ministries can take away the project from the board as the current Investment Board Act forbids doing so.

“There might be interest of some ministries to snatch the projects from us, but it will be difficult legally for them,” said a senior board official. Earlier, Ministry of Physical Infrastru-cture and Transport had snatched Kathmandu -Terai Fast Track but board officials say that the road project had never come under the board fully as the cabinet had not decided for bringing that project under board despite the board’s decision.

In April 2012, Korea’s Landmark Worldwide Company had submitted the study report to the Tourism Ministry. The company has spent US$ 3.55 million on the detailed and design feasibility study. The government had awarded the contract to Landmark on March 8, 2010.

Since the board had been repeatedly asking the Tourism Ministry for the study report, the ministry had told the Khil Raj Regmi-led administration four months ago that if the board wanted the report, it should be ready to pay its cost. But the Cabinet returned the proposal.

“It has been more than one and a half years since the report was submitted to the BOOT committee, but no decision has been made on the project,” said Ranjan Krishna Aryal, joint secretary at the ministry. “The Cabinet has also sent back the proposal. In this scenario, the project has been in complete limbo.”

Although lack of coordination between the National Planning Commission, Investment Board and the Tourism Ministry has been blamed for the project’s being at a standstill, it wasn’t going anywhere even before the board was formed. While the ministry was in favour of handing over the project to Landmark, the commission and the government wanted to go for open bidding.

The ministry had even told the commission that projects costing more than Rs 2 billion could be awarded directly to any investor without calling for a request for proposal (RFP) under Section 9 of the BOOT Act.

Although the ministry had also recommended inviting RFPs, the proposal was intended more to assist Landmark secure the contract as it had been showing an interest in constructing the airport since 2007. The ministry had also pledged to give due priority to the Korean company before it was selected to do a detailed feasibility study. As per Landmark’s feasibility study, the proposed airport would be able to handle 15 million passengers annually and even accommodate the super-jumbo Airbus 380 after the first phase of construction. The estimated investment for the first phase, according to the feasibility study, would be US$ 600 million.

In the second phase, the airport would be expanded to accommodate 30 million passengers annually. By the end of the third phase of construction, the airport would have a parallel runway enabling it to handle 60 million passengers annually. The airport would have a three-storied terminal building with the latest systems and highly intelligent security equipment. The study has stated that a Kathmandu -Tarai fast track should be completed at least six months before the start of the airport’s commercial operation.

source: ekantipur