As the mountaineering season approaches, a large number of expeditionists are lured to Mount Qomolangma, or Everest, bringing hopes of reviving Nepal’s quake-ravaged tourism.
The sole international airport in this Himalayan country, Tribhuvan International Airport, handles around 400 flights on a daily basis. During peak tourism season, over a quarter of these flights are operated for Tenzing Hillary Airport, located in Lukla, the gateway to the world’s highest peak.
Due to heavy demand of flights for Lukla in the mountaineering season which falls from March to May, even other domestic flight schedule often gets disrupted or become the victim of air traffic jam.
Tenzing Hillary Airport, famed as most dangerous airport in the world, recorded up to 105 flights in a single day this season.
“Since March, we are having 90 flights in average per day, with the highest 105 on April 16. Since the passenger movement is excessive this year,” Lokendra Kunwar, manager at the airport, told Xinhua on Friday.
Unlike low flight tendency in the past few years, this season’s high passenger movement at this airport has been regarded as evidence that the mountaineering season of 2017 is going to be highly beneficial for the quake-hit Himalayan country.
Kunwar added that the highest number of flights is handled by private airlines companies Tara and Goma Air and the tendency will go on till the end of June.
Up to 40 expedition teams comprising 373 climbers are conquering the world’s highest peak this spring season. As May is the perfect window for this expedition in terms of favorable weather, foreign and Nepali expedition teams are once again all set for trying their luck.
There were no mountaineering expeditions in the spring of 2015 after avalanches triggered by the devastating April 25 earthquake killed 19 climbers, including high-altitude guides and helpers.
The Department of Tourism, the authorized government body to issue expedition permits, informed that all the climbers have already reached the Mt. Qomolangma region with Sherpa guides and helpers for acclimatization.
Durga Dutta Dhakal, information officer at the Department of Tourism, told Xinhua
“There are around 1,500 people at the base camp and nearby areas currently. As part of acclimatization, climbers have reached up to Camp III from base camp. We are hopeful that the first summit will be held probably next week.”
Starting from March, the climbers usually spend 30 to 60 days in the region, including at the base camp, as part of their preparation.
Dhakal, who himself is heading toward the base camp, added that this year’s Mt. Qomolangma expedition can contribute a lot to revive quake-ravaged tourism.
He nodded at the reports of possibility of traffic jam in the peak owing to a large number of climbers attempting to utilize the benefit of narrow weather window at the same time.
According to the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal (EOAN), authorized body for rope fixing from Camp II to top of the peak, the rope fixing task shall be completed within next few days, which will pave the way for all the commercial and independent summiteers.
President of EOAN Dambar Parajuli told Xinhua Friday that “a team of 14 Sherpa known as Icefall Doctors are waiting in Camp IV for the weather clearance. The weather was not so good in the past few days. If everything went well, they will start rope fixing from tomorrow and shall complete it within 3-4 days.”