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Dispute Erupts Over Virgin Peak in Nepal
The people are divided on opening Fishtail (Machhapuchhre)
Rup Narayan Dhakal (a2zruna)     Print Article 
Published 2006-09-04 18:26 (KST)   
Mount Fishtail (6,997 meters), one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, has once again been pulled into a dispute. The main cause behind the dispute regards its virginity. The peak has not yet been summited and some people are urging the government to open it to expeditions.

The latest dispute occurred a couple of weeks after a delegation team, with Captain Karna Bahadur Gurung and Member of Parliament Prakash Bahadur Gurung, met the tourism minister of Nepal, Pradeep Gyanwali, and urged that it be opened to expeditions.

Most of the locals oppose opening Fishtail. Bindo Thapa, a tourism entrepreneur of the Lumle Village Development Committee, Kaski district, said they would not be able to take advantage of Fishtail's opening because expedition teams carry all the necessaries in from the capital, Kathmandu.

In Nepali, Fishtail called Machhapuchhre, which means the tail of the fish. You can see the fishtail shape of the mountain from the south, especially from Pokhara, a tourist city.

People who would like to see Fishtail remain virgin peak claim that it is so beautiful that it should not be opened. According to them, some locals, especially from the Gurung community, worship Fishtail as a virgin goddess.

Jhalak Thapa, a famous tourism expert in Nepal, says the Fishtail is not for climbing but for seeing.

"It may be raising the popularity of a person when he summits this peak but the peak losses its popularity," Thapa said.

According to Dr. Harka Gurung, an expert on geography, the incomes and opportunities of the local people will be increased if Fishtail is opened. He said beauty could not be presented as a vital and practical reason for the ban in Fishtail.

Rajob Shrestha, an energetic youth from Pokhara, said that the beauty and height of the mountain are the major aspects that attract the climbers for the expedition.

"We have to be practical," he said.

According to Thapa, there are many beautiful mountains open to expeditions that have not increased the locals' standard of living because they are not high like Everest.

It is also claimed that the royalties the climbers pay to the government of Nepal and the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) do not go toward development in the areas of the mountains they paid to climb.

This is the fourth dispute over Fishtail. According to Thapa, 50 years ago, a British expedition team tried to climb Fishtail but failed.

The peak was open for expedition until 1965, Gurung said. But later the government banned expeditions to Fishtail because that was what the people wanted.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rup Narayan Dhakal

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