In 2010 the number of expeditions applying to the Mount Everest Foundation for support is the lowest for at least 25 years.
From a total of 53 in 2005, the number of applicants has generally maintained a downward trend, so that this year submissions have been received from just 21 expeditions.
Reasons for this are unclear. The economic downturn would provide an obvious answer but for the fact that commercially-organized expeditions and treks are booming. Perhaps more people simply want to go climbing, have a good time and not be so adventurous? There is also the question of deadlines.
It is now much quicker and easier to organize an expedition to almost anywhere, and most climbers have no need to think about planning their trip until long after the MEF deadline has passed. This topic has been discussed before, but will most likely have to be revisited in the near future.
For those that do receive financial support, the good news is that the MEF, with its limited pot of available spending, should be able to award proportionally more grant. All grants will be announced towards the end of April.
Included in this year's batch are two highly adventurous and exploratory trips to China; to make first ascents of Birutaso I (6,691m) in the Eastern Nyanchen Tanglha, and the elegant North West Ridge of Xuelian Feng's East Top (c6,400m) in the Central Tien Shan. A third expedition will attempt the less technical but unclimbed Uzatagh (6,292m) in the Kun Lun.
In India, teams are planning to explore the Obra Valley in Garhwal, the Singekang Valley in Kinnaur-Spiti region, add a new route to Jopuno in South West Sikkim, and make the first ascent of 6,805m Januhut in Gangotri.
In Nepal a two-man team hopes to make the first ascent of the impressive North Face of Chamlang (7,319m), while a very strong threesome is planning to try the even more impressive unclimbed South East Ridge of Annapurna III (7,555m), one of the most well-known, hard technical lines in the Himalaya.
Three teams plan to visit various regions of Kyrghyzstan, while another is hoping to climb little known peaks close to the head of the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan, an area that should see increased popularity now that safe access is possible from Tajikistan.
Expeditions to Pakistan (1), Canadian Yukon (1) and Alaska (2) make up the bag.
While applications may have decreased, it seems clear that the quality of proposed objectives definitely has not.