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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 17:47 GMT
Nepal wants children off Everest
Chris Bonington and Doug Scott on Everest expedition
Celebrations are due to begin to mark the first ascent
The Nepalese government is considering banning children under 16 from climbing Mount Everest.

We have been holding discussions with the climbers and officials to make climbing Everest safer

Ganesh Raj Karki, Mountaineering Department

The ministry of tourism and civil aviation has proposed changes in the tourism regulation.

These would have to be approved by the prime minister's cabinet before a new law is adopted.

The proposal comes amid concern for the health and safety of young teenage porters accompanying climbing expeditions in the Himalayas.

Mount Everest was first conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay nearly 50 years ago.

Since then the world's highest peak has been climbed more than 1,000 times and about 180 climbers have died on its unpredictable slopes.

Excessive risk

The proposal to ban children comes a year after 16-year-old Temba Tsheri scaled the 8,848 metre peak to become the youngest climber to reach the summit of Everest.

Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary
The conquerors: Norgay and Hillary

Some officials fear young porters will take excessive risks to emulate his feat.

After a previous failed attempt to conquer the mountain Mr Tsheri had to have several frostbitten fingers amputated.

In 1999, a 15-year-old Nepali boy, Arvin Timilsina, suffered snow blindness near the summit.

He was rescued by Nepali Sherpa guides.

Officials say those below 16 are being banned as they face a greater risk of altitude sickness and also inhale less oxygen than they need to.

The ministry is also mulling the possibility of banning elderly climbers from Everest's slopes.

About six teams are expected to make an attempt to scale the mountain this spring.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Famous names take on Everest
28 Feb 00 | South Asia
Fears over surge in Everest attempts
16 Aug 98 | South Asia
Everest bottle ban
06 Jun 98 | S/W Asia
Mount Everest clean-up
10 May 99 | World
So you want to climb Everest...
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