Mount Everest expedition is fined pounds 67,000

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A BRITISH expedition that included the actor Brian Blessed has been fined dollars 100,000 ( pounds 67,000) for climbing Mount Everest without the Nepalese government's permission.

Four members of the team scaled the peak on 7 October and 9 October, but part of the expedition had only been given a licence to climb Mount Lhotse, a sister peak. The fine is twice the amount it now costs to climb the 8,848m (29,028ft) Mount Everest.

Nepal had increased the peak fees for Everest by 500 per cent in an attempt to curb the number of climbers. It had also cut the number in each party to seven to reduce rubbish being left on the slopes.

Steve Bell, a director with the Himalayan Kingdoms tour company based in Bristol, said yesterday that he was unaware of the new regulations when he took his party of 14 people to the Himalayas.

He said he had to draw seven names out of a hat to decide which members would be allowed to attempt Everest. The others were given a permit to climb the neighbouring peak of Lhotse. But four of that group then joined the Everest team and Mr Bell, 34, promised to pay any extra fees.

'We booked Mount Everest three years ago but since then the fees have gone up by five times,' he said.

'I had an awful lot of discussions with the Nepalese authorities and it was a real problem choosing only seven for the Everest climb.

'I was told if any extra climbers joined I would have to pay an extra peak fee. I knew I'd have to pay more and have been waiting three weeks to find out what the fine would be. I had budgeted for a fine but I didn't expect it to be this much.'

He added: 'They are trying to satisfy the environmentalists but inconveniencing a lot of climbers.

'We just happened to be victims of the unsettled times there but they do need to police the mountain with Sherpas to control the problem.'