KATHMANDU: The provincial government of Province 3 has opened the 6,151-metre Gyalzen Peak for commercial expedition for the first time.

Two groups of Nepali mountaineers will be taking the route less travelled to Jugal Himal in the northeast of Kathmandu this week.

They will attempt to become the first persons to set foot on the 6,151-metre summit of Gyalzen Peak. Located in Sindhupalchok district 145 km from the capital, the mountain lies on the border between Nepal and China.

The first team comprising six members will be led by Maya Gurung who has climbed the tallest mountains on all seven continents, including Everest. The second team of two members will be led by Madhav Sapkota. They plan to mount their assault in mid-May.

The ascent of Gyalzen Peak could open the door for many people who have a dream of climbing mountains with a small budget and within a short span of time. Some climbers have suggested that the peak could be promoted as a ‘training peak’ before allowing amateur climbers to make an attempt on Everest.

Gurung said that Gyalzen Peak could be promoted as a training peak to allow climbers to develop their mountaineering skills before heading for the world’s tallest mountains. Climbers said that the government could make it mandatory for Everest aspirants to climb small peaks first. This will help to prevent accidents and save lives. It will also be a test of their fitness to make an attempt on Everest, they said.

In 2014, the government opened 104 new peaks to commercial expeditions. The number of peaks open for commercial climbing, including eight thousanders, has reached 414. Among the open peaks, nine are higher than 7,000 metres, 90 are above 6,000 metres and four are above 5,000 metres.

There are 3,310 walking and climbing peaks above 5,500 metres in Nepal, according to a study conducted by the government and the Nepal Mountaineering Association. Among them, 1,913 are climbing peaks requiring the use of mountaineering gear.

Nepal has 1,300 peaks higher than 6,000 metres; and among them, 16 are above 8,000 metres and 122 are higher than 7,000 metres. The government estimates that there are more than 1,600 virgin summits in the Nepal Himalaya.