Some climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest during the upcoming spring climbing season will be strapped with GPS devices. It will locate them in case they are in trouble and also, prevent false claims of reaching the summit.
Although hundreds of climbers are expected to attempt to climb the world’s highest peak in April and May, only a few will be fitted with the GPS devices as an experiment.
Durga Dutta Dhakal, the chief of Nepal’s tourism said the GPS devices costing around $300 per piece would help locate climbers who are in trouble on the mountain. It will make it easier for the rescuers to find them.
The GPS devices will also track the movement of the climbers while they are on Everest. The data will be checked upon their return from the climb. This will help determine whether the climbers reached the summit and should be issued a climber’s certificate.
Just last year, an Indian couple claimed they scaled the peak and received a certificate from mountaineering authorities, only to find out later that they had altered their photo on the summit. It was a huge embarrassment for Nepalese mountaineering authorities.
Till now, climbers only need a photo to show them on the 8848-meter-high (29,035 foot high) summit and a report from a government assigned liaison official to prove that they had reached the summit. The officials, however, rarely stay on the mountain to monitor the climbers. Climbers are also covered with heavy clothing, climbing gear, and oxygen masks, making it difficult for them to be clearly recognized in the photographs.
The 2017 spring climbing season is expected to be busy on Everest. Hundreds of climbers were able to scale the peak last year following two years of disasters on the mountain.
The 2015 season was scrapped after 10 climbers were killed and 61 injured in an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides.
Reference: The Himalayan Times