BAJHANG: The first attempt to scale Mt Saipal in Bajhang district was unsuccessful. This peak (7,031 metres) is still not conquered even after 70 years since mankind’s engagement with the Himalayan peaks.
Although a 37-member team of mountaineers had attempted to climb Mt Saipal four years back, it was not successful. The tourism entrepreneurs had taken the initiation for the mountaineering expedition on Mt Saipal in 2075 BS, saying the mountaineers were concentrated on climbing the peaks in the eastern Himalayas only.
Twenty climbers of three expedition teams had taken permission from the Department of Tourism to climb Mt Saipal during mid-October to mid-November. Pechhumbe Sherpa, a mountaineering guide, said that four Sherpa and two Spaniards who attempted to scale the peak gave up after reaching 5,500 metres.
Their expedition was managed by Sherpa Himalaya Under Company. “This mountain is technically difficult mountain; so, we had to abandon our expedition for lack of preparation,” he said.
Sherpa still believes that Mt Saipal can be scaled if the climbers are capable and make adequate preparation.
According to him, although the Sherpa guides opened the climbing route to the summit by tying 1,200 metres rope, the climbers including four Nepali women said they could not climb and the attempt became unsuccessful.
The guides believe that the ascent on the peak would be possible if skilled mountaineers attempted an alpine climbing or climbing without rope.
Although more than 100 peaks have been identified in the far-west region of the country and opened for climbing, none has been climbed yet. Therefore, the tourism entrepreneurs have urged the Department to extend cooperation for making the ascent of those peaks successful.
“The Department should attract the mountaineers by constructing route up to the base camp and other physical infrastructures and publicizing these virgin peaks to promote mountaineering tourism and activities in this part of the country,” said Bhojraj Bhatta, base camp manager of the Mt Saipal Expedition.
Though the government had waived the royalty for mountaineering expedition in the western region for 20 years with a target of developing tourism of this region, it has not been climbed yet.
However, the Department has started taking royalty for the past few years. The Department has collected Rs 481,000 revenue till 2075 BS from the mountain expeditions in far-western region.
A climber, who went to climb Mt Saipal, said that out of 403 mountains identified and opened by the government for expedition, Saipal, is the main attractive mountain.
Saying there are around 150 mountains in the western region which are not climbed yet, he suggested that the three-tier of government should expand expedition by bringing special package. Locals had welcomed the mountaineers, gone for last time, at Chainpur, the district headquarters of Bajhang, expressing happiness the expedition was taking place for the first time in the far-west.
Altogether 37 people including members of expedition team and locals had gone towards the base camp. Two expeditors, who had already climbed 14 mountain peaks above 8,000 metres of the world, were also in the team.