Nepal to overhaul Everest security after brawl: Official

KATHMANDU - Nepal will overhaul security on Mount Everest, a tourism official said Friday, a year after a brawl between European mountaineers and local guides made global headlines.

Soldiers and police will be stationed at Everest base camp so climbers can approach officers "if there are any issues" on the world's highest mountain, senior tourism ministry official Madhusudan Burlakoti said.

The move comes after a fight last April between three European climbers and Nepalese Sherpa guides at the camp that shocked the mountaineering community.

The brawl fuelled concerns that overcrowding on the "roof of the world" was raising tensions and leading to arguments over climbing rights.

"We are setting up a government-run tent on base camp so climbers can approach our officers if there are any issues, whether for medical help, rescues or anything else," Burlakoti told AFP.

"We want to make things easier for climbers," Burlakoti said.

Currently, a liaison officer, either from the army, police force or tourism ministry, is assigned to each group of mountaineers during the peak climbing months of April and May.

Once the tent station is set up in April, climbers will be able to access officers more easily in the event of trouble, rather than relying on a single assigned liaison officer, Burlakoti said.

The fight between the Europeans and local guides erupted when the Nepalese asked the mountaineers to stay in base camp while they fixed ropes on an ice wall for climbers.

The Europeans refused, saying they were free to ascend since they did not need to use the ropes, sparking the violence.

The move comes one week after Nepal slashed individual climbing fees for Everest and other Himalayan peaks to attract more mountaineers, sparking concerns of further traffic on the mountains.

Everest is a key revenue earner for the impoverished country, with hundreds scaling the mountain every year, but many in the climbing community warn of the dangers of over-commercialisation.

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