/ Nepal climbing permits

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Tom F Harding 25 Oct 2019


Could someone advise or point me in the direction of some resources that explain the Nepalese climbing permit system. I have poured over reports and websites but still can’t get my head around how it actually works and what can be climbed. There seems to be lots on conflicting information about.

I understand there is a list of around 326 peaks, and I have managed to find an out of date list of them (where is the latest one?). Are these the only peaks you are permitted to climb? What about sub-summits?

Am I right in saying you don’t need to liaison officer for peaks below 6500m?

Thanks in advance

Post edited at 14:35
Damo 26 Oct 2019
In reply to Tom F Harding:

>> Could someone advise or point me in the direction of some resources that explain the Nepalese climbing permit system.


There's not one really good single place for any of that, even though there should be. Their lists are a mess and most people in the MoTourism have no idea where anything is (which can actually be useful, if you do).

The NMA site isn't much better: https://www.nepalmountaineering.org/article-nma_peaks

In any case you are going to need to get a good agent, one experienced and able in dealing with climbers wanting non-standard peaks (otherwise you'd just follow an ad to buy a trip to Ama Dablam, Mera etc). Recommendations from friends or experienced others are good, as there are lots of agents now and the some of the best ones don't advertise as they have lots of business built up over years.

It was the the case that for Expedition Peaks under 6500m you didn't need an LO, and I did one trip under these rules which worked well. But apparently the govt changed their minds, without necessarily making any pronouncements, and I've been told in many cases they will want some kind of LO or 'guide' to be with you.

Trekking Peaks, formerly the only peaks administered by the NMA, always required a Sirdar to go with you anyway, which bizarrely made them more expensive and onerous than lower Expedition Peaks, which gives you some concept of the ineptitude of much of the Nepal bureacracy.

This is also seen in their price list https://nepalmountaineering.org/article-servicecharge where they charge more for pre-monsoon because that's peak Everest/8000er season, whereas most peaks under 7500m are better in post-monsoon, so that's where the demand is - and when they charge less!

Tom F Harding 28 Oct 2019
In reply to Damo:

Thanks for taking the time to reply Damo. I have some  recommendations for an agent in the area we want to visit but I wanted to be a bit more knowledgeable before we do any negotiations. 

I'm still unclear about what can be climbed, I have read plenty of reports of peaks above the 5800m trekking peak height that are not on the peak list - Mick Fowler on Gave Ding for example. Does it all come down to your agent pulling the correct strings with the NMA?

Kimberley 28 Oct 2019
In reply to Tom F Harding:

No, NMA only administer the peaks listed on their website, https://www.nepalmountaineering.org/article-nma_peaks

All other peaks are administered by the Dept of Tourism https://www.tourismdepartment.gov.np

Damo 28 Oct 2019
In reply to Tom F Harding:

Peaks like Gave Ding are not on either list, NMA or MoT. So yes, it comes down to your agent.

A common tactic is to get a permit for an allowed, named peak that is nearby, or in an area where names are confused, and just climb what you want. Bending the rules in that way for such areas, if all else is done above-board, is usually let through - as I noted above, almost nobody in the govt knows where anything is anyway. I'm not saying you should get a permit for Lhotse and climb Everest, saying you got confused and went right instead of left ;-)

Bear in mind that Nepal has recently instigated more Restricted Areas, at the behest of China, so some areas, mainly near the border, may be theoretically be harder to get into. More likely it's a ploy to charge higher daily fees as they do for existing Restricted Areas. But as with the majority of edicts issued from the government and MoT, it may well amount to nothing.

Another thing to remember, that was not the case years ago, is that it's increasingly hard to get porters (let alone good ones) in more remote areas, especially in the west. Many people have left their farms to work in KTM or overseas, so there are simply fewer men out there and those that are know the remote trails less well than their grandfathers, and no one there can read your maps. So you may end up using horses, which may be limited how far up a valley they can go, or bussing in porters from KTM, which many expeditions do now, despite the cost. This means they don't know the area, will feel out of place, and depending on your agent, can be a mixed bag of abilities and experience.

Tom F Harding 30 Oct 2019
In reply to Damo:

Ha! This is what I thought might be happening. Thanks for the honest information. We will get onto some agents and find out a bit more about the current situation. 

Its interesting what you said about porters. I have read similar in some reports from north west Nepal so again it will need a bit of negotiation.

If people are interest I'm happy to continue this thread with information i get.

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