Mountaineers to Scale Everest with Tracking Chips

Friday, February 23, 2024

Starting this spring, all mountaineers to scale Everest with tracking chips provided by the government. These chips will be integrated into the climbers’ jackets, aiming to enhance safety during mountaineering activities.

Officials believe this measure will contribute to a safer climbing experience for everyone involved.

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Rakesh Gurung, who serves as the Director of the Mountaineering Branch within the Department of Tourism, has proposed a new measure aimed at enhancing search and rescue operations for climbers. This initiative involves requiring climbers to wear a special chip attached to their clothing. This chip aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of locating climbers in case of emergencies or accidents on the mountain.

He thinks that having a chip like this would greatly simplify the task of finding and rescuing a climber who’s stranded in the perilous terrain of the high Himalayas.

They are considering using chips instead of mobile or GPS devices for climbers because those devices can run out of battery, especially at critical times. Chips could be more reliable for locating climbers buried under snow during an avalanche. The government is talking with chip manufacturers to pick the most trustworthy and effective types.

Accident in Everest

More than 330 individuals have tragically lost their lives while attempting to summit or descend from Mount Everest. Regrettably, this mountain holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of fatalities, although its death rate isn’t the highest among mountains. The causes of these deaths range from avalanches and falls to collapses of seracs, exposure, frostbite, and health issues related to the extreme conditions on the mountain.

Due to the challenging terrain and harsh weather conditions, not all bodies have been recovered, leaving some details surrounding these fatalities unknown. Many of these tragedies in high-altitude mountaineering can be attributed to the deadly effects of the “death zone,” where vital bodily functions can fail, or indirectly through poor decisions made under extreme stress or physical exhaustion leading to accidents.

In the death zone, the human body struggles to adapt because it consumes oxygen faster than it can be replaced. Staying there for too long without extra oxygen leads to declining bodily functions, unconsciousness, and ultimately, death.

The need for rescue

Kumar Ranabhat, the vice president of the HRA, expressed his approval of the new plan, stressing its significance for search and rescue efforts in the high Himalayan region.

He noted that typically, there are about 10 to 15 rescue missions each year, but harsh weather conditions could increase the need for more rescues. Ranabhat detailed how their association established temporary health camps in tents at Everest’s base camp.

In the event of accidents further up, they collaborate with helicopter companies and agencies to effectively coordinate rescue operations.

Few Solutions on the Horizon

Reducing the number of climbing permits could ease overcrowding and minimize emergencies.

Climbers in Nepal are required to take medical examinations before ascending, but the efficiency of this requirement and its implementation are not entirely clear.

By adopting a cautious strategy and being ready to return when required, it is recommended to avoid having an obsession with reaching the summit.