This should be water on the mills of the supporters of the solo trekking ban in Nepal. I learned from sources in the Himalayan state that a Japanese trekking tourist was found dead yesterday at Khongma La, a 5,535-meter-high pass in the Everest region. The body was recovered and brought to Kathmandu, it said. The 54-year-old, who was trekking alone, had been missing for a week. The Khongma La connects the Imja Valley and the Khumbu Glacier Valley, at the end of which lies Everest Base Camp.
Dispute over new regulation
From tomorrow, Saturday, 1 April, solo trekking is to be banned in Nepal. According to the Nepal Tourism Board, trekkers traveling alone will then be required to take a guide or porter. Those who are found alone risk a fine of 12,000 rupees, the equivalent of about 85 euros.
However, the Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality, the local authority of the region around Mount Everest, has stated that this rule does not apply there. The authority announced a lawsuit if the solo trekking ban is not withdrawn. The Nepal Tourism Board, on the other hand, insists that the new rule applies to all trekking areas in the country and that there is no exception.
Appeal to take a guide even in Khumbu
Although the authority in Khumbu strictly rejects the rule, it too appeals to the common sense of trekkers: “While it is not mandatory to take a guide while trekking in the Everest region, we highly recommend taking one – specially when you are trekking in high altitude zones and high passes. They help troubleshoot, are a conduit into local culture and keep you safe.“
According to the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), about 10 to 15 trekking tourists disappear without a trace each year, most of them traveling alone, TAAN said.