Nepal to require all Mount Everest climbers to use a tracking chip

CNNAhead of the 2024 Mount Everest season, Nepal has announced a new requirement that all climbers must rent and use tracking chips on their journey.

“Reputed companies were already using them but now it’s been mandatory for all climbers,” Rakesh Gurung, director of Nepal’s department of tourism, told CNN.

“It will cut down search and rescue time in the event of an accident.”

He explains that climbers will pay $10-15 apiece for the chips, which will be sewn into their jackets. Once the climber returns, the chip will be removed, given back to the government, and saved for the next person.

Tracking chips use the global positioning system (GPS) to share information with satellites.

Gurung added that the chips were manufactured in “a European country” but did not specify where or by which company.

The majority of people who try to climb the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) Mount Everest do so via Nepal, paying $11,000 apiece just for the climbing permit. Adding in the prices of gear, food, supplemental oxygen, Sherpa guides and more, it costs upwards of $35,000 to take on the mountain.

Eight of the world’s ten highest peaks are in Nepal, and the country makes significant tourism revenue from mountaineering.

It can take as long as two months to complete the Mount Everest climb. The weather is suitable for summiting during a very small window, usually in mid-May.

Last year, Nepal gave out a record 478 climbing permits. Twelve climbers were confirmed to have died on the mountain, while another five remain officially missing.

Rescues at “the roof of the world” are risky under even the best of circumstances.

In 2023, 30-year-old Gelje Sherpa passed up his own chance at reaching the summit in order to pull off a daring rescue of a Malaysian climber at the Everest “death zone.”

“It is almost impossible to rescue climbers at that altitude,” Department of Tourism official Bigyan Koirala told Reuters at the time.