After avalanche, Nepal opens up unclimbed peaks

Story highlights

  • Sixteen Sherpas died in an avalanche on Mount Everest last month
  • Nepal announced it will open 104 new peaks to climbers
  • It is an attempt to bring climbers back

A month after 16 Sherpas were killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, Nepal is opening up 104 previously unconquered Himalayan peaks in a bid to attract more mountaineers to the country.

There are now 414 peaks open for climbing, a top mountaineering official said Thursday.

"We want to give climbers more options," said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, head of the tourism industry division at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. "Some of these mountains have been opened up because mountaineers have asked us to open them for climbing."

It is also an attempt to lure climbers back after the deadly avalanche April 18, the single deadliest accident on the 8,848-meter (29,028 feet) mountain, the world's highest peak.

At least six companies that lead Everest expeditions called off their 2014 climbs after the accident, right before the peak season.

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Two of the newly opened unclimbed peaks include the 7,681-meter Hillary Peak and 7,916-meter Tenzing Peak, named after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first people known to have climbed Everest in 1953.

This year more than 330 foreign climbers had been given permission to try to scale Everest, but almost all of them abandoned their expeditions after the Sherpas refused to climb the mountain out of respect for those who died.

However, two climbers -- an American man and a Chinese woman -- are on Everest trying to reach the summit and they may be followed by others, according to mountaineering officials.

The Himalayas were formed millions of years ago when the Indian subcontinent collided with the Eurasian land mass and even today, geologists say, the height of the mountains is increasing by 4 millimeters every year because of the pressure between the tectonic plates.

Burlakoti said there are 1,310 peaks above 6,000 meters in the country and more peaks will be opened for climbing in the future.

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