Friday, March 14, 2008

Everest 2008- Expedition in Doubt

Developments in China/Tibet and Nepal in the last few days have put my Everest Expedition in serious doubt. China, who are running an expedition to get the Olympic Torch to the summit, have closed the Mountain from their side until May 10th. This morning, after much pressure the Nepali authorities seem to have followed suit.

The reasons behind this seem to be that the Chinese fear that their expedition will be disrupted by "Free Tibet" protests. This was the case last year as they put a rehearsal expedition together on the China/Tibet side of the mountain.

The thing is that you just can't start an Everest Expedition after May 10th, you need the whole of April and early May to fix the mountain and get acclimatised, so this ruling basically ends any ones hopes of summitting. There is a bit of confusion about the statement from the Nepali authorities as it states ""Expedition teams will not be allowed to move from Nepal's Everest base camp from May 1 to May 10,". This would perhaps mean that teams could be on the mountain during April, but how they could ensure everyone was off by May 1st is questionable. It is also very optimistic of the Chinese to think that they will summit by May 10th as this is in the hands of the Mountain and more realistically the weather. If the weather delayed the Chinese, it would put back everyone's expedition which needs to be off the mountain before the monsoon arrives in June.

This untimely decision by authorities, of both countries, has not only a huge impact on hundreds of mountaineers, who are just weeks and days away from setting off to the mountain but also the livelihood of many locals, sherpas, porters etc.

I am due to fly out next Saturday and, like many others, have been planning and training for this expedition for years. To say I am gutted, by these developments, is a huge understatement. I can only hope that in the coming days things change and a compromise can be sought.

I have copied a link to some recent web reports that show the latest developments.

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