New age restrictions for Everest

“It was a prodigious white fang, an excrescence from the jaw of the world. We saw Mount Everest” – George Leigh Mallory 1921 on first setting eyes on the world’s highest mountain.

Oh-oh, I suppose it had to happen…

China has now imposed a ban on anyone under 18 and over 60 from climbing the world’s tallest peak, which shares a border with Tibet and Nepal. This restriction has been put in place by CTMA, the China Tibet Mountaineering Association which issued this new legislation on 10th June, 2010.

Everest from the Tibet side

It comes hard on the heels of  Jordan Romero’s ascent of the 8,848m peak from its Tibetan side at the age of 13. His climb, although successful, sparked debate throughout the climbing community.

The CTMA’s decision was welcomed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) which limits the age to 16. There is no upper limit on climbing in Nepal.

Currently, the oldest person to the summit Everest was a Nepalese man, Bahadur Sherchan, at the age of 76, though Sailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, former Foreign Minister of Nepal, has announced his goal of breaking that record.

The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) welcomed the decision to ban people under the age of 18 from climbing, but the organization is critical of the upper age limit. “Many climbers over the age of 60 have safely climbed Everest and other high peaks,” said UIAA President Mike Mortimer. “Although medical considerations might present problems, the older climber often has a wealth of experience missing from younger people.”

Lucky 13 year old Romero. His successful summit will now hold the record for the youngest climber on Everest until one of the two countries bend their minimum age limits.

Sad for the hopes of Nepalese speed climber, Pemba Dorjee Sherpa, who holds the world record for the fastest ascent on Everest—at 8 hours and 10 minutes—and had recently announced his plans to bring an 11-year-old Nepalese boy to the summit in 2011.

Probably just as well…

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