Everest 2008: South Side Open For Business??

The Adventurist, who has done a great job of staying abreast of things, has a number of updates today on the evolving situation in Nepal and Tibet, starting with this story from the Nepal News that says that Nepal will not limit access to Everest this Spring.

You’ll recall that there were many rumors flying last week following the Chinese announcement that the North Side would be closed until after May 10th to allow their Olympic Torch team to summit. There were some indications that Nepal would do the same on the South Side thanks to a large economic package sent that way from the Land of Mao. Now it would appear that those reports were a bit premature and that climbers may have full access to Everest as they would in any other year.

Why the change of heart? Well, it’s quite possible that Nepal was only entertaining the Chinese request to keep climbers from the summit until after May 10th, but never actually agreed to it. It’s also possible that they listened to the needs of the climbers and the Sherpas that they employ and thought better of the idea. What ever the reason, it’s good to get some good news as the season draws ever closer. This isn’t completely confirmed yet, but it’s looking good.

Meanwhile, in Tibet a thousand were arrested as the Chinese crack down on those they suspected of taking part in the recent demonstrations that turned into riots there. The report is that some 600 Tibetans were taken into custody on Saturday with another 300 on Sunday. Since that time, the police have made raids throughout Lhasa, at times going door to door in their search. The article talks about the use of tear gas to disperse crowds and witnesses seeing at least one man beaten by the police when they drug him out of his apartment complex.

For his part, the Dalai Lama has condemned the violence in his home country and asked Tibetans to stop rioting in his name. He’s even gone so far as to threaten to step down if the violence did not cease. A spokesman for his Holiness clarified the statement saying that he meant that he would step down as the leader (in exile) of Tibet but would “always be the Dalai Lama.”

Finally, ESPN.com is reporting that the French Foreign Minister is calling for the EU to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games if conditions don’t improve in Tibet. He isn’t advocating boycotting the games, but saying that teams should consider boycotting the highly publicized opening ceremony to send a message to the Chinese Government.

I appreciate his gesture, and I know a lot of people are against turing the Olympics into a political tool, as we saw with the U.S. boycott of the 1980 games in Moscow and the Russian boycott of the 1984 Summer games in Los Angles. But at what point do you draw a line that the Chinese can understand? As I’ve said before, this was meant to be their big “coming out” party for the International community. They want to show that they’re ready for the World Stage. Perhaps a statement of some kind should be made back to them as well. Remember, Hitler was also more than happy to kick off the 1936 games in Berlin.

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “Everest 2008: South Side Open For Business??”

  1. Nice article, thanks for the plug–a bit risky with the Hitler comparison, but then again–we all like risk;)

  2. Yep. I knew it was risky, but one I was willing to take. Considering their record on human rights, I don’t think it’s far from the mark though.

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