After dilly-dallying for months Nepal has finally decided to extend climbing permits of all mountaineers who failed to make attempts on Everest and two other nearby peaks during last year's spring season.
Over 450 climbers including 334 attempting Everest were forced to abandon attempts at the Himalayan peaks last year after 16 Sherpa guides were killed in an avalanche on the world's highest peak in April.
On Thursday, Nepal government agreed to amend mountaineering rules and allow the climbers to use last year's permits for fresh attempts this year or anytime till 2019.
"The decision will enable the climbers to make individual attempts on Everest and other peaks or join as members of other expeditions," said tourism ministry spokesperson Mohan Krishna Shrestha.
The government's move, which comes just weeks ahead of the spring climbing season this year, has been welcomed by expedition agencies. But the delay in the announcement could affect footfalls on Everest this May.
Major operators like Peak Freaks (Canada), High Adventure Expeditions (USA) have decided to cancel 2015 Everest expeditions and some others are planning to climb the peak from the Tibet side.
Nepal earns nearly $ 3-4 million annually as royalty from climbers on Everest and other Himalayan peaks, but last year's tragedy raised issues about rules and safety of the Sherpa guides accompanying the expeditions.
Nepal agreed to increase life and medical insurance cover for the Sherpa guides and also provide better rescue, relief and weather forecasting facilities at the Everest Base Camp.