KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal's government is close to extending the permits for individuals who had to abandon their attempts to climb Mount Everest after last year's deadly avalanche, a mountaineering official said Thursday.
Chief of the Mountaineering Department Puspa Raj Katuwal said a proposal has been sent to the Cabinet and is likely to be approved by the government soon. The three-month climbing season on Everest begins in March.
That would allow the more than 300 climbers denied their summit attempt to return anytime by 2019 for another try.
The avalanche that killed 16 Sherpa guides last April while they were hauling gear near base camp was the worst disaster on Everest, the world's highest mountain.
The government previously said it would let expedition teams come back without paying the permit fees again, but it was difficult for all the teams' members to decide on a single year to return. The confusion was threatening to chase climbers to the northern climbing route in China.
Katuwal said once the proposal is approved, the climbers affected by the 2014 cancellations would be able to return to Nepal and try to climb Everest by themselves or with others without having to pay the permit fees again.
Nepal has also pledged to improve weather forecasting, security and rescue efforts, and it has cut the fees for individual climbers to $11,000 from $25,000 this year.