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Monday, 10 April, 2000, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
India opens up Himalaya peaks
Himalayas
Some peaks have been off-limits for security reasons
By Daniel Lak in Delhi

Mountaineers have welcomed the decision by India to allow expeditions on around 200 peaks in the Himalayas that were closed for many years because they are near sensitive border areas.

Although none of them are among the world's highest mountains, the Indian Mountaineering Federation says there is immense interest in India and around the world in the new peaks.

Himalayan climbers have been looking for new heights to conquer and India has obliged them.

Most of the main peaks in the Himalayas have been climbed many times from all possible angles.

Losing revenue

There were very real fears here in India that foreign expeditions could start going elsewhere - to the Andes, for example - depriving India of millions of dollars in crucial foreign exchange.

The Indian Mountaineering Federation has persuaded the government to lift decades' old restrictions on mountain peaks along border areas with Tibet, Pakistan and China.

That means expeditions have nearly 200 new peaks to choose from, 20 of which have never been climbed before.

The highest mountain - entirely on Indian territory - is Nanda Devi at nearly 27,000 feet, which remains off-limits for environmental reasons.

And restrictions on peaks sacred to Hindus and Buddhists will also stay.

Climbers are only allowed to ascend those mountains if they agree not to put their feet on the summit, which is considered holy ground.

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See also:

08 Apr 00 | South Asia
Female Sherpas tackle Everest
18 Oct 98 | South Asia
Speeding to the summit
08 Feb 98 | Country profile
Nepal - Everest country
25 Oct 99 | South Asia
Legendary sherpa gives up mountains
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