The UIAA has announced its support for the decision taken by the Chinese Tibet Mountaineering Association, to enforce age restrictions on those attempting the summit of Everest.
The CTMA - the official body that issues permits to all those attempting mountains in Tibet - has stated that only those aged between 18 and 60 will be considered for permits to climb the mountain from the Tibetan side.
The move comes after the record-breaking succesful ascent of Everest by American climber Jordan Romero, who summited the mountain at the age of 13 on May 22nd 2010. As part of an attempt to climb the highest summit on every continent, Romero completed Everest with father Paul Romero and step-mother Karen Lundgren, they not only hold the record for the youngest ascent but also for the first family ascent on the mountain.
Controversy surrounds the '7 Summits' bid by the family, with Kiliminjaro ticked off when Jordan was 9 and Denali when he was 11, and questions regarding how old summiteers must be to attempt the highest mountain in the world have now been answered.
The decision will take effect at the start of the next climbing season in September, but whilst most have agreed that the lower age limit is a sensible step forward, there is concern over the upper age limit of 60. In light of this it has also been announced that permits may be issued by the CTMA under exceptional circumstances to those outside the age limits stated, who can provide medical certification of their physical ability.
UIAA President, Mike Mortimer greeted the Chinese decision, stating that young mountaineers lacked not only climbing "experience", but also maturity, but also that "the issue of an upper age limit would seem to be very arbitrary and should be of concern." Mortimer added "many climbers over the age of 60 have safely climbed Everest and other high peaks. Although medical considerations might present problems, the older climber often has a wealth of experience missing from younger people."
However despite the Nepal Mountaineering Association welcoming the decision by the CTMA to apply its age restrictions, it is yet unclear whether the NMA will move its lower age limit of 16 in line with the its Chinese counterpart. As yet the NMA has no upper age restriction, which some are suggesting could cause competition with those summiting Everest choosing the Nepali side over the Tibetan. In addition there is still uncertainty over whether the restrictions introduced by the CTMA are confined to Everest or whether they will apply to whole Himalyan range.
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