People, Travel

Mt. Everest Reopens Months After Fatal Avalanche

Mt. Everest Reopens Months After Fatal AvalancheMt. Everest Reopens Months After Fatal Avalanche

Nepal has opened Mount Everest to climbers for the first time since an earthquake-triggered avalanche in April killed 19 mountaineers and ended the popular spring climbing season.

Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki will be the first to attempt to scale the world’s highest peak since the quake. Nepal’s Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa gave Kuriki his climbing permit at a ceremony in Kathmandu on Sunday, AP reported.

Kuriki plans to leave for the mountain on Tuesday by helicopter and then reach the summit in mid-September. The autumn season is considered a difficult time to attempt Everest and is generally avoided by climbers.

It will be Kuriki’s fifth attempt at Everest. His four previous bids to reach the top of the 8,850-meter mountain were unsuccessful. In his last attempt, in 2012, he lost nine fingers to frostbite.

Since the devastating earthquake in April that killed nearly 9,000 people, Nepal has been desperate to bring back tens of thousands of tourists who used to enjoy trekking the country’s mountain trails and climbing its Himalayan peaks.

As many as 300 climbers, and even more Sherpas, were on the mountain when the quake hit. The landslide began on Mount Kumori, a nearly 23,000 foot-tall mountain near Everest, before reaching the expedition groups gathered at the base of Everest.

The injured were flown by helicopter for medical attention to a nearby hospital, but persistent bad weather made even that a challenge.

For his part, Kuriki sounded undeterred Sunday.

“The main purpose of my climb is to spread the message that Nepal was safe for climbers and trekkers even after the earthquake,” Kuriki said.