MountEverest.net has received word from the Chinese Mountaineering Association that there are no plans to limit access to the North Side of Everest next season, despite rumors that have been running rampant on the Internet and in the media.
As everyone knows, China is hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic games, and one of the big events they have scheduled leading up the Games is taking the Olympic Torch to the summit of Everest. The persistent rumors were that China would shut down the North Side for all other climbers, save for those on their Torch team. Furthermore, there were some claims that they were negotiating with Nepal to shut down the South Side as well, giving them the mountain all to themselves.
Today’s report seems to squash those rumors, with Ang Tshering Sherpa, Chairman for Asian Trekking Ltd and President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, saying that the Chinese do not intend to limit access to the North Side, and that permits will be readily available for either side of the mountain. He does say that the Chinese team still have not decided how they will cordon off the mountain while they are attempting their summit bids with the torches, and the CMA has also admitted that they will be screening climbers to avoid any unsavory, by their definition, elements on the mountain during their most visible Olympic PR stunt.
Personally, I believe you’ll see something similar to last year, but perhaps on a bigger scale. The Chinese contingent will dominate base camp, and dictate who has access to the mountain and when they have access. They’ll likely hold everyone else off the mountain, at least from the North Side, until they have the opportunity to put the Torch on top. Security will probably be even tougher than it was in the Spring of this year, and I would expect a draconian presence on the mountain.
After the Torch has topped out however, the team will move on, and Himex will be left to run the show. Business as usual.
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