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AAC Moves on Pakistan Peak Fees

Posted on: December 10th, 2010 by Luke Bauer

American Alpine Club President Steve Swenson recently posted a letter to the Pakistani Ministry of Tourism  to protest its proposed 2011 increase in Peak Royalty Fees. In 2002, attempting to lure climbers to the nation in spite of the unsettled security situation, the Ministry halved costs for expeditions attempting any peak greater than 6,500 meters, and even further reduced prices in the Chitral, Gilgit, and Ghizer regions, except on the popular Spantik/Golden Peak. These reduced rates have remained in place ever since.

In addition to reducing the peak fees, Pakistan changed the requirements for liaison officers and to what elevations an individual could ascend carrying only a trekking permit. Peaks like Trango Tower, which previously required a peak royalty fee and the added cost of an official liason officer, can now be climbed with a $50 per-person trekking permit.  Additionally, the requirement of a liaison officer—even on peaks higher than 6500 meters—only applies to peaks that are high-security areas near the border with India or China.

The proposed fees for 2011, while still discounted when compared to pre-2002 levels, are an increase over the last eight years. Prominent Pakistani mountaineer Nazir Sabir indicated that the “number of expeditions have been decreasing year by year since 2001” and that an increase in fees now will further negatively impact many Pakistanis whose livelihood is supported by climbing tourism.

At present, the Ministry is still framing the fees as a percentage discount off of an official price. Below are the fee structures for teams of up to seven climbers, as they have changed over the last decade.

Official fees:
• K2: $12,000 plus $2,000 per additional climber
• 8,001m to 8,500m: $9,000 plus $1,500 per additional climber
• 7,501m to 8,000m: $4,000 plus $500 per additional climber
• 7,001m to 7,500m: $2,500 plus $300 per additional climber
• 6,501m to 7,000m: $1,500 plus $200 per additional climber

50% discounted rates from 2002 – 2010 have been:
• K2: $6,000 plus $1,000 per additional climber
• 8,001m to 8,500m: $4,500 plus $750 per additional climber
• 7,501m to 8,000m: $2,000 plus $250 per additional climber
• 7,001m to 7,500m: $1,250 plus $150 per additional climber
• 6,501m to 7,000m: $750 plus $100 per additional climber

Proposed 40% discounted rates for 2011 are:
• K2: $7,200 plus $1,200 per additional climber
• 8,001m to 8,500m: $5,400 plus $900 per additional climber
• 7,501m to 8,000m: $2,400 plus $300 per additional climber
• 7,001m to 7,500m: $1,500 plus $180 per additional climber
• 6,501m to 7,000m: $900 plus $120 per additional climber

Climbing fees in the Chitral, Gilgit, and Ghizer regions—except on the popular Spantik/Golden Peak—are offered at 90% discount, and winter ascents on any peak are a largely symbolic 95% off.

AAC President Steve Swenson’s letter to Pakistan’s Ministry of Tourism:

December 8, 2010
Secretary, Ministry of Tourism

Subject: Ten Percent Increase in Peak Fees

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We have received your notification that the Peak Royalty Fees for 2011 will be at a 40% discount instead of the 50% discount as in previous years. It is our understanding that the intent of the original 50% discount was to help revive mountaineering activity in Pakistan that has been impacted by travel warnings issued by the United States and other countries. These travel warnings are still in place, so increasing the Peak Royalty Fees will discourage mountaineering activity in Pakistan.

Pakistan has done more recently to reduce fees and streamline the permitting process than any of the other countries in Asia containing 7,000 and 8,000 meter peaks. Without these “climber friendly” policies and regulations in place, mountaineering activity in Pakistan would have suffered much more. Raising the Royalty Fees will hurt the businesses and individuals in Pakistan who depend on adventure tourism for their livelihood. Given the current situation, a strong argument could be made for reducing the Royalty Fees instead of increasing them.

We hope that the Ministry of Tourism will reconsider its plan to raise the Peak Royalty Fees for 2011.
Sincerely,
Steve Swenson
President
American Alpine Club

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