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Nepal Cuts Everest Fees; Opens 100 More Peaks


By Doug McClellan

The cost of reaching the "roof of the world" just came more down to earth.

Trying to spark tourism, the government of Nepal has slashed fees for climbing Mt. Everest, opened 100 new peaks to trekkers and climbers, and abolished an onerous paperwork requirement for Everest climbers, the American Alpine Club said.

"They're really trying to get more tourists out there," Charley Mace, expeditions committee chair of the American Alpine Club, said Tuesday. "They understand in Nepal that tourism money drives the economy, or very much of it."

The fee cut will have the biggest impact on smaller climbing parties. Before, climbers up to a group of seven had to pay a flat $70,000 fee, according to the alpine club.

The new rate structure establishes a sliding fee based on the size of the climbing party. For example, a solo climber pays $25,000 while a party of four pays $56,000. Only until a party reaches a size of seven does the fee go to $70,000.

Of course, Mace noted, climbers who pay tens of thousands of dollars for an Everest expedition may not be overly concerned about peak fees.

"It's definitely the ultimate cocktail peak," he said. "There's always going to be a bunch of guys who will want to go whether it's $1 or $1 million."

Nepal also abolished the requirement that climbers present an "endorsement letter" from an authorized national climbing organization.

Nepal was the last country to require the endorsement, which was routinely rubber-stamped by the alpine club.

"It was a vestige of colonial make-work," Mace said.

He said the country also opened 100 new peaks for climbing and trekking.

Tourism has suffered in the wake of last year's palace massacre that left Nepal's king and several family members dead. A Maoist insurgency in the country has left nearly 2,000 dead over five years.

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