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Deadly Jam on Everest: Nepal Delays New Safety Rules

The country said it would toughen regulations after several climbers died last year. But the rules will not go into effect this spring, and climbers want to know why.

Hundreds of climbers trapped near Mount Everest’s summit, hooked to a single safety line on a ridge with a several-thousand-foot drop, their oxygen cylinders emptying until a few people died from exposure.

The traffic jam during last spring’s climbing season, one of the deadliest on the planet’s highest mountain, underlined what veteran alpinists have been saying for years: Ego, inexperienced climbers, big payouts and chronic mismanagement – including the dangerous practice of cutting corners on vital safety equipment – have turned Everest into a circus at 29,000 feet.

After the season ended, Nepal’s government announced robust safety rules intended to weed out inexperienced climbers, reduce the number of people on Everest and prevent another pileup, which was blamed for some of the 11 deaths in 2019.

But now, the government says the new rules will not be imposed for the coming climbing season, which begins in April and lasts through May. Despite international scrutiny and intense pressure from climbing groups to tighten operations on Everest, officials say the rules need further review before they can be put in place.