Everest 2008: Nepali Military In BC

Over the weekend it seems that the news that everyone had been waiting for finally arrived, as the Nepali military finally arrived in Base Camp on Everest’s South Side and began enforcing the rules that we’ve been hearing so much about for the past month.

According to the latest round of dispatches from The Peak Freaks, the liaison officers and military arrived last lodge before BC located in Gorak Shep. By Saturday they moved the rest of the way into Base Camp, and promptly ordered the Icefall Doctors to quit working on their route through the Khumbu Icefall. Thankfully, work was able to resume on Sunday, and the docs have been told to fix the route all the way up to Camp 1, although teams are forbidden from climbing up to that point until given the go ahead by the military. Many teams were hoping to be able to move through the Icefall and begin shuttling gear and supplies up to C1 early this week. For now, they’re stuck in BC.

In other news, according to the Everest Challenge website, British explorer and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has arrived in Everest Base Camp as well, after completing the trek up the Khumbu Valley. Sir Ran is climbing to raise money and awareness for the Marie Curie Cure Cancer Organization. The same group he worked with on his Eiger climb last year.

Also arriving in Base Camp is David Tait, who has had a series of misadventures since his expedition has begun, including an unexpected trip to a dentist in Kathmandu. (He’s braver than I thought!) David had been trekking the Khumbu along with Russell Brice of Himex and Everest: Beyond The Limit fame. Brice was displaced from the North Side, his usual base of operations, thanks to the Chinese Torch Team locking down the region, and decided to make an Everest Trek instead this season. David joined him, as he had climbed with Himex on the North Side last season. The unexpected return to Kathmandu put a damper on those plans, but he had hoped to fly back to BC by helicopter. Turns out the Chinese are not allowing helicopters in the region, other than for emergency purposes either. So, David, and a Sherpa guide, have made the long trek back to BC, in record time it would seem. David’s account of his trek is quite good, especially when he describes the reaction of this Sherpa, who got more than he bargained for when he took Tait on as a client.

Of interest is the ban on helicopters. I guess the Chinese really are paranoid that someone might make a dash for the summit when they Torch Team is in place. The fact that you can’t even take a commercial flight to Base Camp at the moment tells you how different things are on the mountain this season. The Chinese really do have things on lockdown, even in a country they don’t occupy.

Kraig Becker

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