Nepal’s Everest measurement expedition lands in soup

Kathmandu, 3rd May 2019

A government team, which aims to re-measure the height of Mt Everest, has landed up in trouble after its team leader has been found leading a nine-member commercial expedition to the world’s highest mountain this spring season.

While the Department of Survey has designated a two-member expedition under the leadership of survey officer Khimlal Gautam, a climbing permit issued by the Department of Tourism under the name of ‘Sagarmatha Height Measurement Expedition – 2019’, however, shows that it has at least nine members who would attempt to climb Mt Everest for the purpose of height re-measurement.

Susheel Dangol, Chief Survey Officer at the Department of Survey, claimed that the government team comprised only two members – Gautam as a leader and survey officer Rabin Karki as the member of the expedition.

But, the permit obtained by Gautam under ‘Sagarmatha Height Measurement Expedition’ shows seven more members in his team. “It’s a foul play and we will investigate at the earliest,” Dangol said, adding that it was a government-designated expedition but not a commercial one.

A copy of DoT’s climbing permit seen by THT shows that Rohit Kumar Shrestha, Dawa Jangbu Sherpa, Pasang Phuti Sherpa, Kumari Gyanmala Ranapal, Fur Diki Sherpa, Nima Doma Sherpa and Kanchhi Dolma Holmo are also part of the ‘Sagarmatha Height Measurement Expedition’ under the leadership of Gautam.

According to Dangol, except Gautam and Karki, other members could not be a part of the expedition. “Two members will attempt to climb Mt Everest collecting significant data for the re-measurement process while two department staff – Suraj Singh Bhandari and Yuba Raj Dhital
– will coordinate from the base camp,” Dangol said. Gautam couldn’t lead the commercial expedition, he confirmed.

Interestingly, the expedition has chosen Meera Acharya, head at the DoT’s mountaineering section as its liaison officer. Gautam, who has already left for the base camp, couldn’t be contacted for comments.

Rameshwor Niraula, an official at the DoT, confirmed that the department issued a climbing permit to a nine-member expedition after receiving an application from Peak Promotion Pvt. Ltd, a local agency hired by the government to run the expedition. “Survey Department, expedition leader and local handling agency should be held responsible for any wrongdoing.”

Earlier, Prime Minister KP Oli bid adieu to the Gautam-led government team on an expedition to Mt Everest. - The Himalayan Times

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