KATHMANDU (AFP) -- Nepal Sunday opened Everest for the autumn season, granting its first climbing permit four months after a deadly earthquake triggered an avalanche at its base camp.
Hundreds of climbers had to abandon attempts when the avalanche struck in April, marking a second summer season with virtually no one reaching the summit of the world's highest mountain.
The deaths of 16 Nepalese guides in an avalanche in 2014 sparked a shutdown that year.
Japanese climber Nobokazu Kuriki will return to the mountain this month in his fifth attempt to reach the summit. The autumn season is considered riskier because of high winds and lower temperatures.
Kuriki, who lost nine of his fingers to frostbite in his 2012 attempt to climb Everest, will be supported by a five-member team but will climb solo from Camp 2 to the summit.
"I feel very happy to give this permit for the autumn season at a time when the earthquake has caused such loss to our tourism industry," said Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa.
"This will give a positive message about Nepal internationally and I believe it will encourage other visitors to come," Sherpa added.
Kuriki said he wanted both to climb Everest and help Nepal.
"Everest has seen tragedies in the last two years, and I want to help Nepal revive its tourism," the 33-year-old said, adding that he intends to summit in mid-September.
According to the tourism department, 14 teams have already applied for climbing permits in the autumn season.
Mountaineers say China's decision to halt permits for its side of Everest may divert climbers to the Nepal route.
The devastating earthquake that struck the Himalayan nation on April 25 killed more than 8,800 people. Apart from the Everest avalanche it destroyed the popular Langtang trekking route, raising fears for the immediate future of the important tourism industry.
Nepal called in international experts to examine trekking routes in the Everest and Annapurna region following April's disaster and certified that they were safe for hikers.
Mountaineering is a major revenue-earner for the impoverished country, home to eight of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 metres.