KATHMANDU (AFP) - Sherpa climbers who successfully scale mountains, including Mount Everest, will be officially recognised, the Nepali government said on Friday (May 5), reversing a controversial decision to stop issuing summit certificates to the guides.
The Sherpas who guide foreign mountaineers are the backbone of Nepal's lucrative high-altitude climbing industry, which nets the impoverished Himalayan country more than US$3 million (S$4.2 million) a year.
Last year, Nepal announced it would stop issuing summit certificates to the guides and only officially recognise the climbs of foreigners who pay expensive permit fees, which run to US$11,000, for permission to scale Everest.
"The ministry is positive on the proposal forwarded by the tourism department to provide certificates to the Sherpas," Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, told AFP.
All Sherpas climbing during the current spring season, which runs from late April to the end of May, will have their climbs retroactively recognised once the law changes, said Department of Tourism spokesman Durga Dutta Dhakal.
Sherpa guides staged a sit-in earlier this week at Everest base camp to demand that their climbs be recognised by the government.
There are 373 foreign climbers currently on the 8,848m-high peak who will attempt to summit in the coming weeks with the help of at least one Sherpa guide each.
"The summit certificates count for their (Sherpas') reputation and credibility," said Ang Tsering Sherpa, the head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
"The recognition is important for everybody. To recognise the efforts of all to reach the summit of these mountains."
Mr Upadhyaya said that a draft revision would be sent to the finance and law ministries and then to the Cabinet for final approval - a process that will likely take months.