Helicopter companies are carrying out unauthorised sightseeing flights over the higher reaches of Mount Everest, Nepalese officers say.
Sherpas have expressed worries that vibrations because of the helicopters should trigger avalanches.
visitor flights are not allowed to locations above Base Camp which is at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17,600ft).
however helicopter businesses say they simplest overfly sights just like the Khumbu Icefall and their flights are allowed.
there was no expedition on Everest for the beyond years because of a chain of disasters.
sixteen Sherpas died on their way to Camp One in an icefall in 2014. at the least 18 climbers died at Base Camp after a major earthquake induced a huge avalanche last yr.
After the 2014 disaster, government moved the hiking path to the center of the Khumbu Icefall.
it is a treacherous section that mountaineers should move on their way up to the summit of Everest.
Sherpas are currently transporting day trip device to higher camps for the current mountaineeringseason.
“The sightseeing helicopters are soaring above the Khumbu Icefall and making matters hard for us,” statedPasang Kaji Sherpa, a mountain manual with a military expedition team now on Everest.”We fear that the vibrations resulting from helicopters can crack ice blocks and snow packs on mountains overlooking the Khumbu Icefall.
“there is a deep-seated fear among Sherpa porters that they may be hit by means of avalanches this 12 months as well and these helicopters are increasing fears,” Pasang Kaji Sherpa brought.
After the BBC started out to analyze whether sightseeing helicopters have been permitted to fly to placesjust like the Khumbu Icefall, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) issued a circular to all airwayswarning them not to behavior such flights.
“we have made it clear in the round that sightseeing flights are in reality now not allowed in places betterthan the bottom camp,” stated Rajan Pokhrel, Deputy Director trendy of CAAN.
“only rescue flights for the duration of emergencies are allowed in the ones areas and now and again wepermit special tasks like skydiving whilst encouraged through other authorities authorities.”
Mr Pokhrel said his workplace had additionally heard the Sherpas’ issues.
but, airline officers say there may be no such risk.
“We fly 2,340 toes from above the floor and hold at least 1km distance from the mountains so there may beno way the vibration can purpose avalanche,” said Pabitra Karki, chairman of airways Operators affiliationNepal (AOAN).
“We use the French-made Ecureil helicopters for sightseeing that are very light and we supply two to 3passengers in every flight.”
AOAN officers say there are around half of a dozen sightseeing flights in keeping with week during themountaineering season.
but other resources at Base Camp stated such flights had been turning into extra frequent.
about 20 helicopters are operated by six businesses in Nepal however most effective a handful of pilots are certified to fly to high altitudes.
Alarm and situation
“For Sherpa climbers, particularly the ones carrying device for expedition teams, helicopters flying overhead in higher areas is a mentally torturous revel in,” says Phurba Namgyal Sherpa, wellknownsecretary of Nepal country wide Mountain courses affiliation.
“the fragile snow and ice conditions can be disturbed at any time with the aid of the rotors of helicopters and that might spell catastrophe for us.
“this is an problem we had been discussing for quite some time now but we aren’t positive wherein tohotel the criticism.”
Scaling Mount Everest is the dream of many climbers who’re organized to pay a number of money to reachthe summitAviation specialists say a part of the hassle is how such flights are policed by using theauthorities.
officers from CAAN admitted they have been now not at the ground to screen such flights but depended on different government companies primarily based there.
“simply due to the fact we aren’t there does not imply we don’t get to recognize what happens up there,” Mr Pokhrel recommended.
similarly, the department of Tourism has allowed helicopters to transport ropes and different equipmentup to Camp One to restore the direction, after excursion operators complained that the earthquake had made the Khumbu Icefall more tough to cross.
“We fear that the sort of concession may be misused for extra sightseeing and different commercialpurposes and growth the hazard of avalanche within the vicinity,” said Phurba Namgyal Sherpa.