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Nepal aims for holding Ice climbing world cup

HB Kham

Ice climbing: File photo

Ice climbing is one of the world’s renowned sports. Nepal -a land of snow-capped mountains throughout the year and especially in winter- is now mulling over holding ice climbing as one of the major winter sports.

The topic of ice climbing is gradually gaining its ground after initiatives undertaken by Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) to hold a ten days 2nd Annual Ice Climbing festival from February 1 to 10, 2020 at Humde in Manang district. Humde is elevated at 3200m above sea level in Manang and the festival is being organized to promote winter adventure sports in Nepal in line with Visit Nepal 2020.

According to Bishnu Tamang, General Secretary of Nepal Climbing Team, his team had started the ice climbing as a sport since 2018 after their like-minded experienced friends did long research for at least three and four years and arrived at a conclusion to establish an organization to take initiatives about ice climbing sport in Nepal.

“Our friends like Prem Gurung, Anup Gurung, and Binayak J. Malla have been researching on Ice climbing since 2014 and 2015. After these three, four year’s research we had a meeting in 2018 to organize ice climbing as a festival in Nepal and present it as a new tourism product,” said Tamang.

Bishnu Tamang-GS of Nepal Climbing Team, speaking during a press meet.

Bishnu Tamang’s team comprised of himself Binyak J. Malla, Sangam KC, Dhruba Bista (who had died last year during Everest climbing) and Mingma Sherpa. The ice climbing festival last year was held from February 2-9, 2019.

Nepal is a mountaineering hub because Nepal is home to 8 higher mountains out of 14 higher mountains above 8000 meters in the world. Nepal has not only higher mountains but also has a countless number of mountains above 6000 meters and 7000 meters that are usually covered with snow.

There are at least 1000 mountains above 6000 meters. The same number may also be estimated for mountains above 7000 meters full of snow. Similarly, there are countless mountains above 5000 meters in Nepal. Bishnu Tamang believes that despite Nepal being blessed with so many natural treasures why should Nepal lag behind other countries in hosting Ice climbing as one of the winter sports.

So, inspired by the profuse potentiality of Nepal Mountains’ propensity to provide ample virgin ground for Ice climbing the issue of Ice climbing was raised at the national level. ”We envision that ice climbing will be a sport besides a climbing event and also can be a training event too for those climbers coming from outside,” adds Tamang.

Tamang also said that his climbing team is developing further plans to develop Ice climbing as one of the beneficial tourism products in the future. Although, Ice climbing may prove to be merely a pilot project in the initial phase, yet in the long term it may be productive.

“We are pushing forward by seeing the ample possibilities in this field. We are here not for a short time. We have long plans for it because we think Nepal is one of the countries that depend upon the tourism sector. And we have the enthusiasm to work for ice climbing as a tourism sport during wintertime,” says Tamang.

So far the general survey done about possible hubs for Ice climbing has been located at Manang, Rolwaling of Dolakha, Namche, Khurche, Mustang, Gorkha, Langtang, and Manaslu.

If we can succeed in this first phase, then we can invest our time in numerous mountains above 3000meters in east and west Nepal for this ice climbing venture. We are thinking of focusing on the areas in between 3000 to 4000 meters as we can’t think of going to mountains above 5000 meters as there is snowfall in winter, says Tamang.

Tamang also claims that Ice climbing is not only a winter sport, but it is also a world-famous sport that is being hosted in China, Japan and in various parts of Europe.  Nepal being a place of ice where many people are born with ice can for sure promote ice climbing as a good sport in the coming days provided everyone concerned including the Nepal government is convinced about its utility and significance.

“We want to convince the Nepal government about this sport and promote Ice climbing as a sport in the coming days by providing training to the people and producing world-renowned sportsmen for the world competitions,” says Tamang.

Tamang also argues that if Ice climbing is a world-famous winter sport that is being organized even at sea level, then why Nepal can’t make ice climbing as one of the winter sports here, where Nepal is full of mountains and remains at the freezing point in winter.

“So, we aim to organize national level, Asian level and even world cup competition for Ice climbing in Nepal in the future,” adds Tamang.

Santa Bir Lama -Chairperson of NMA speaking during a press meet for ‘Ice climbing’ in Kathmandu.

Speaking during a press meet for the event “Ice climbing” in Kathmandu recently, the NMA chair Santa Bir Lama said that the Ice Climbing festival is Co-hosted by Nepal Climbing Team with the support of Visit Nepal 2020 secretariat that is promoted by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and technical support from Nepal National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA) and Nepal Mountaineering Instructors’ Association (NMIA).

Kul Bahadur Gurung-General Secretary (NMA)

Kul Bahadur Gurung-General Secretary of NMA indicating towards the forthcoming festival of ice climbing said that this event is going to be the first event of Visit Nepal 2020 and a number of international sportsmen have already been invited to participate in this winter sport in Nepal.

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