Climbing Mount Everest Now Requires Using Mandatory Tracking Chips from Nepal

Nepal has announced that climbers planning to attempt the summit of Mount Everest in 2024 will now be required to rent and use mandatory tracking chips. The chips will cost climbers an additional $10 – $15 apiece and will be sewn into their jackets for the duration of their trip.

The Director of Nepal’s Department of Tourism, Rakesh Gurung, told reporters that the measures were introduced to increase emergency response times. “Reputed companies were already using them,” Gurung said, adding, “It’s now been made mandatory for all climbers. It will cut down search and rescue time in the event of an accident.”

The number of climbers has steadily increased in recent years. 2023 saw a record number of permits issued, 479 in the climbing season. There were 656 total summits, as Nepalese climbers—typically climbing as porters—do not require permits. With the rise in climbers, the rate of emergencies requiring a rescue has also been increasing. 2023 also saw the  highest death toll yet, with 18 deaths reported in a single year.

Changes to the cost of climbing and the implementation of tracking devices are the latest efforts by Nepalese officials to combat emergencies at altitude and hopefully alleviate the crowded conditions on the famous route. In 2025, a single permit will cost $15,000—up from the current $11,000 price tag. Raising the cost of ascent permits to Everest does not appear likely to thin out climbers, considering the growing cost and success of luxury expeditions, charging as much as $200,000 per person.

Using a battery-free transponder, the tracking devices incorporate GPS technology to identify a specific climber’s location, allowing search teams to pinpoint climbers’ locations with far greater accuracy. The chips will also benefit teams trying to locate and recover bodies, which often comes with significant challenges. Hundreds of bodies are currently scattered along the climbing route, with a single climbing accident in 2023 resulting in three bodies being left behind.

Officials have long faced criticism for the crowded route, with several of the fatalities blamed on delays and bottlenecks. Dead climbers were used as markers along the route, the most famous of these referred to only as ‘Green Boots’ for his neon-green climbing boots.

Since climbing on Everest started in 1921, there have so far been 332 deaths on the mountain, with an estimated 200 bodies still on Everest. One area of Mount Everest has been nicknamed ‘Rainbow Valley’ after the bright-colored jackets of stricken climbers strewn across the landscape.

Hopes are that the new chips will mean more successful rescue attempts, preventing bodies from being left behind. Officials from Nepal and China blame the exorbitant cost of recovery – and physical danger to the recovery teams – for the number of dead left behind on the climbing route.

Crowded conditions on the mountain are not the only reason for the increased number of injuries and deaths. Climate change is also playing a role. Thinning glaciers are becoming increasingly unstable, and the climbing seasons are less predictable.

A second route to the top of Everest is again an option in 2024 for making the ascent through Tibet. Permits for that route are controlled by China but were closed to foreign nationals’ applications during the previous three seasons. Along with different application requirements, the Chinese government has stricter rules. It does not allow novice climbers or O2-free attempts; its permit fees are also higher.

For those explorers who want to experience the mountain without the escalating cost and risk of an ascent, it is possible to trek both sides of Mount Everest and even access the 5200m base camp. Permits for trekking around Everest are far less expensive, and no chips are required for trekking. Otherwise, climbers wishing to make a bid for the summit should be prepared for higher-than-ever costs and mandatory tracking measures.

Richard Weninger

Author: Richard Weninger


Richard Weninger is a Freelance writer with an extensive background in broadcast journalism and travel writing. He is a published author of both guidebooks and fiction novels. Richard is also an outspoken advocate for environmental causes and animal rights, with a passion for hiking and exploring

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