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Nepal may tell aspiring climbers: Beginners keep out

Nepal may tell aspiring climbers: Beginners keep out
Pack yaks ferry supplies to base camp on Mt. Everest, where congestion is being blamed for compromising safety. (Associated Press)

The Guardian is reporting that officials in Nepal are weighing a ban on novice climbers on Mt. Everest.

Permits to climb Everest may be given only to those who can prove they have scaled mountains higher than 21,000 feet, the paper reported this week. The disabled, old and very young also face bans.

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The permits cost thousands of dollars and are a key source of revenue for Nepal. It is unclear how the demand for proof of previous climbs might be enforced. The president of the Nepal Mountaineering Assn. says previous attempts to curb climbing have failed.

The proposed change comes as a new movie, "Everest," focuses adventure travelers' attention on the world's highest peak. The Universal release, about the 1996 deaths of eight climbers, finished in the top 5 in box-office sales last weekend. Among the themes: how commercial climbing enterprises have exceeded capacity and compromised safety on the 29,029-foot peak.

Author Jon Krakauer, who wrote about the mountaineering tragedy in "Into Thin Air," has called the movie "total bull" for its handling of the facts surrounding the failed expedition. "I never had that conversation," he told The Times of a scene in which his character refuses to assist stranded hikers.

The movie has garnered good reviews and received a 72% positive rating on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes.

Every year an estimated 600 climbers attempt to reach the summit, fueling a lucrative industry and bringing problems such as overcrowding, the Guardian reported.

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