Nepal has issued a record number of permits to climbers wanting to summit Mount Everest this spring, an official said Thursday, prompting fears of overcrowding on the world's highest peak.
A record 373 foreign climbers have been cleared to scale Everest from the south side during a narrow window of good weather this month, netting the impoverished Himalayan nation more than $2 million in fees.
Most attempt to summit the 8,848 metre peak with the help of at least one Nepali guide, meaning that more than 750 climbers will be heading for the summit in the next few weeks.
"The number of climbers issued with permits for Everest this spring is the highest ever," said Department of Tourism spokesman Durga Dutta Dhakal.
More active convection than forecast around Mt. Everest producing overnight snowfall...#Everest2017 @WeatherEric @WxMaddie @TheFrancast pic.twitter.com/PmwrUtrbU5 — Jason Shafer (@jayshaferwx) May 3, 2017
"The best case scenario for 2017 is for many good weather days to spread out the crowds," climber and mountaineering blogger Alan Arnette warned in a recent post. "If it is like 2012 with four or even six (days) we can expect record deaths, record frostbite while seeing record summits, a harsh scenario."
A photo of a huge traffic jam below the Everest summit in 2012 prompted calls for better crowd management on Everest, and even a cap on the number of permits issued annually.
But Ang Tsering Sherpa, the head of Nepal Mountaineering Association, said lessons had been learned from previous years.
Ueli Steck, famous Swiss climber, dies in Nepal ahead of Mount Everest expedition https://t.co/uQY0SAvVju pic.twitter.com/tshg8c7fgY — ABC News (@abcnews) May 2, 2017