The Nepalese Department of Tourism has officially banned Everest climbers from taking or sharing photos of any expeditions other than their own. According to Gripped Magazine, the law was put in place to curb the number of viral photos of long lines on the world’s highest peak, such as Nirmal Purja‘s photo of the crowds on the summit ridge that went viral in May 2019. Photos like that one have led to criticism of the government’s handling of environmental impact in the Himalayas.
“Our law bans the dissemination of photos and videos taken on Everest without the department’s consent. But the practice has not stopped,” Mira Acharya, who is currently the director at the Mountaineering Division of the Department of Tourism, told the Kathmandu Post. “We have [therefore] issued new rules before the climbing season to make them more effective.” Acharya clarified that the practice of sharing photos of other expeditions has always been illegal, but moving forward, the government intends to enforce them to a higher degree than before.
However, it remains to be seen if these rules will actually be enforceable. Ang Tsering Sherpa, the former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, explained to the Kathmandu Post that younger generations can share photos faster than ever and that laws such as those imposed by Nepal may not keep up. “You make a click here, and in an instant, your photo goes around the world,” he said.
It is not yet clear how effective these laws will be in reducing viral photos in the future, but they are unlikely to affect the Everest crowds themselves. Separate regulations imposed by Nepal after the 2019 season hope to limit the actual number of climbers on the mountain. Still, it is also unclear how these rules will impact Everest expeditions in the upcoming years.