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CTMA Sets Everest Age Restrictions

The north face of Mt. Everest (8848m) as viewed from Ronguk monastery in Tibet. On June 10, the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) established new age restrictions for the north side of Everest, banning climbers under 18 and over 60. Nepal, which shares the mountain with Tibet, currently restricts climbers under the age of 16 but has no upper age limit. [Photo] Carsten Nebel

The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA), the organization that regulates climbing activities in Tibet, issued new regulations on June 10 that set age limitations on Mt. Everest. The decision bans climbers under the age of 18 and over 60 from climbing the world’s tallest peak, which shares a border with Tibet and Nepal. The announcement comes in the aftermath of Jordan Romero’s ascent of the 8848m peak from its Tibetan side at the age of 13, which sparked debate throughout the climbing community.

The CTMA’s decision was welcomed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). Nepal, which limits the age to 16, once had no age limitation, “but the lacuna triggered a lot of competition that was heavily criticised by renowned mountaineers,” NMA president Ang Tshering Sherpa wrote. That decision came after a 16-year-old Nepalese boy, Temba Tseri Sherpa, became the youngest climber to summit Everest–but not without losing a few fingers and toes to frostbite. This situation created pressure to create a minimum age, but 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.

In response to the CTMA’s restrictions, 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.”

Romero’s successful summit will therefore hold the record for youngest climber on Everest until one of the two countries bend their minimum age limits. The restrictions will quash 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.