The Times of India is reporting that Nepalese officials will require some Mt. Everest climbers to wear GPS units to prevent false summit claims during this year’s push to the top. Hundreds of climbers are expected to attempt to summit the world’s highest peak during the months of April and May but only a few will be wearing the devices during the pilot program.
The chief of Nepal’s tourism department, Durga Dutta Dhakal, said the GPS devices will cost around $300 and can be used to locate climbers in distress as well as verifying summit claims. The data collected from the devices will be checked once the climbers return from the summit and will help determine who should be awarded a climber’s certificate.
In previous years, climbers only needed a photo showing them on to of the 29,035ft summit and a report from a government-assigned liaison official to receive their certificate but officials rarely are there in person to monitor the climbers and climbers identities can be hard to verify from photographic evidence due to the heavy clothing, climbing gear and oxygen masks that go along with scaling the world’s highest peak.
Last year, an Indian couple falsely tried to receive their climbing certificates through a photo they submitted that was altered. They were subsequently banned from climbing the mountain for 10 years and subject to world wide outcry from the climbing community.
“The couple, who are both police officers in India, first came under suspicion when a fellow Everest climber noticed a few pictures the couple posted to their social media looked eerily similar to his own from his successful summit ascent. He alerted authorities and after an investigation it was determined the couple did not summit Everest and had doctored the photos.
Nepalese authorities have imposed a 10 year ban on the couple for attempting to climb Everest. There has been a country wide outcry of shame from their fellow Indians and from Indian police specifically. The police commissioner in Pune, India had this to say about the couples behavior:
“They have tarnished the image not only of police force but of the whole country.”
The couple, both 30 years old, have disappeared after giving an initial interview. The two sherpas tasked with accompanying the couple on Everest have also disappeared.”