Unfortunately, some people lie about topping Mount Everest. Most athletic achievements are carefully observed and documented but to date, the same hasn’t held true for climbing to the top of the world’s tallest mountain. It’s not like anyone could actually stay there and check people’s names off a list or give them a token when they reach the summit.
So at least a few people have faked it. The Nepalese government doesn’t want to put up with climbing cheats and is instituting a program to stop it. During this year’s two-month climbing season, which usually starts in late March, Nepal will issue GPS-tracking devices to some climbers. It’s a trial trail experiment, according to Reuters.
Durga Dutta Dhakal, an official with Nepal’s Tourism Department, said the department will assess the effectiveness at the end of the season. “If this works, we’ll make it mandatory for all climbers to carry the device from next year,” Dhakal said.
Here is how it will work: Climbers who return to the Everest base camp and report successful summits will be required to show photographs and provide documentation from climber liaisons who remain at the base camp. After the climbers get back to Kathmandu, the country’s capital, they will turn in their GPS-tracking units. Officials will review the GPS “breadcrumb” trail, a record of progress with times and locations, as a way to certify the climbers actually did achieve the summit.
Another potential benefit to the GPS trackers is assistance in communicating with rescue teams if climbers need assistance. Nepal gets approximately four percent of its gross domestic product from tourism and mountain climbing, according to Reuters. Both income sources suffered after numerous deaths from avalanches in 2014 and 2015. The GPS trackers may be able to simultaneously protect Everest’s reputation from frauds and make climbing a little safer.