Climbers targeting peaks above 5,000 meters in the Tibet autonomous region, including the north side of Qomolangma — the world's highest mountain, which is known as Mount Everest in the West — now have to apply for a permit, according to a rule issued by Chinese sports authorities on Friday.
To make climbing safer, or at least less deadly, the General Administration of Sport and the sports bureau of Tibet released a notification last week requiring climbers to send an application to the bureau at least a month in advance of their planned ascent.
It said climbing without permits will be strictly prohibited.
"In recent years, cases of injuries, missing people and deaths have been witnessed as a result of illegal climbing," the notification said. "Climbing is a highly professional sport with high risk. Most illegal climbers lack professional skills, facilities and tour guides.
"Such activities will disturb orderly climbing and bring risks, not only to the climbers themselves but also rescuers. They will also lead to a loss of personal or national property."
Applications will need to detail each individual climber's personal information, proposed climbing routes and related plans.
Climbers are also being asked to abide by related laws and regulations to protect mountain environments.
The notification also urged regional government departments to intensify security checks and the prohibition of illegal climbing, encourage residents to join regular patrols near major climbing routes and promote public education on climbing safety.
Organizers or climbers participating in illegal climbing will face administrative penalties, it said.
In a previous interview with China Daily, Kul Bahadur Gurung, general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said difficult weather conditions, lack of experience and support personnel, and the commercialization of expeditions were the main reasons for the high death toll on the world's highest peak.
"Since the number of people reaching the summit of Everest is increasing, everyone thinks it is easier to climb and everyone can climb, which is a totally false idea," he said.
Due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, China canceled all applications to climb Qomolangma last year.
In 2019, a total of 362 people climbed the north slope of Qomolangma: 142 foreign climbers, 12 Chinese ones, and 208 Nepalese Sherpa support personnel.
The number reaching the top via the north slope that year was 241, taking the total number of people to have reached the top of Qomolangma from the Chinese side to 3,019.
Two foreigners died on Qomolangma and two others were rescued at heights of 7,500 meters and 6,500 meters, the regional government said.
Daqiong contributed to this story.