Nepal bans solo “climbing” of Mount Everest
Nepal has not banned solo trekking to Everest Base Camp or anywhere else! I’ve been getting a lot of emails over the Christmas and New Year holidays about big news media headlines announcing that Nepal has banned solo climbers from summiting Everest.
There is no ban on trekking.
Again, let me confirm the following:
- Solo trekking to Everest Base Camp is not banned – not banned for solo trekkers or hindered in anyway whatsoever. Go alone, go with a guide – there are no restrictions at all.
- Climbing up to the very top of Everest is under a “proposed solo climber ban” in the coming season.
What is the difference? Trekkers go to Everest Base Camp. Climbers (mountaineers) go to the very top of the mountain.
There is no solo trekking ban on Everest
A “solo climbing ban” on Everest means that the Nepali Authorities are “proposing” a new restriction on the climbers who want to go all the way to the top of Mount Everest. About 600 mountaineers do this every year … (think Edmund Hilary).
A “Solo trek to Mount Everest” means going on a trek (hike) from Lukla or Jiri to Everest Base Camp – this is what the vast majority of people do in Nepal and there is no solo trekking ban.
Why is there confusion over this?
It’s a mix of terminology (climbing vs trekking), big media selling headlines and a typical lack of communication from Nepal.
Earlier this year the Solokhumbu region (Everest region) introduced a controversial 2,000 rupee “foreigner” tourist tax for “anyone” in the region. I was the first to report the new Everest Tax here and have been keeping this updated for trekkers. While it’s been ruled as not applicable by Nepal, it’s still being collected. Read the link for updates.
A few years ago the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) – the quasi government agency that takes lots of money for mandatory TIMs cards from all trekkers and also takes vast amounts of money from trekking agencies and guides – wanted a ban on all solo trekking in Nepal. They failed miserably.
This year (2018) Nepal is proposing a ban on solo climbers who want to summit Mount Everest. This means that mountaineers who want to go all the way to the top of Everest as part of the big expeditions need to take a mountaineering guide. This proposal has not yet been 100% confirmed and the mountaineering associations around the world are generally not happy about it.
Again, there is no ban on solo trekkers to Everest Base Camp (EBC). You can still go alone or with a guide.
Why are climbers being banned from climbing Mount Everest alone?
It’s not just Mount Everest, solo climbing on all of Nepal’s mountains is banned. The official word is to increase the safety of the mountaineers. The unofficial word is so that a bucket load of money can be made.
When the ban came in it also included double amputee and blind mountaineers. This, rightfully, created a bit of an uproar from the mountaineering associations and groups around the world. Nepali authorities have now clarified that double amputees and blind mountaineers can still climb but will been a doctors certificate saying they are capable.
To top it all off, the “ban” is still not 100% officially being enforced … yet.
If you are used to Nepali climbing and trekking laws then all of the above will come as no surprise to you and neither will the lack of confirmation or sense. If you are new to all this … just remember this does not effect trekkers in the least. At least, not yet.
Will Nepal ban “solo trekkers” in Nepal soon?
I have no doubt whatsoever that TAAN and the multitude of trekking companies that work and are a part of the profits that make up TAAN want a full ban on solo trekkers in Nepal. Every year they push and push for the ban. Why? So they can make a fortune from trekkers through fees via the companies they have ties with.
I wrote about this back in 2012 – Nepal to ban solo trekking. Thankfully international pressure stopped this from happening.
Now that Nepal is “booming” post 2015 earthquake, I have no doubt that TAAN and those who would profit from such a ban are gearing up for another shot at cashing in.
Can it be enforced? Well, just look at the “illegal” new Everest fee/tax. It’s officially not meant to exist, but try flying into Lukla and escaping it. Likewise when TIMs cards were said to no longer be needed in the regions … well, they are still mandatory. So basically… what a great testing ground.
For now, trekking solo is still 100% allowed in Nepal, everywhere (aside from culturally restricted zones like Upper Mustang).
Should you trek to Everest Base Camp alone?
No. Not if you are a first time trekker. That’s what I’ve said and written for years. If you have prior trekking experience in Nepal, then yes you could consider it. If you have never been trekking before then in my opinion it’s better and safer to go with a registered trekking guide.
I take the view that safety comes first alone with enjoying the trek. That goes for every trek, not just EBC.
Take a look at MissingTrekker.com (the yearly report is due out this week). You’ll see how many reported trekkers went missing last year.
A trek anywhere in Nepal is to be enjoyed. For first time trekkers, going with a guide will add to your safety and improve your experience, knowledge and understanding about not only trekking and how to trek but also about the mountains of Nepal.
Where do you find a guide for Everest Base Camp? Well, start by reading my free guides to trekking in Nepal – including – how to trek to Everest Base Camp, how to find a trekking guide in Nepal and for all this and so much more my book on Trekking in Nepal!
If you plan to travel more of Nepal, then check out the book below which includes the trekking book as a dedicated chapter.
Get my Guidebook to Nepal & discover more than anyone else!