NG Adventure Blog Interviews Everest Deportee

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National Geographic’s Adventure Blog has scored the first interview with William Brant Holland, the man banished from Everest a few weeks back, and we finally get a bit of clarity on what went down at Base Camp.

Holland says that he had been in Nepal for about a month, after cycling around the U.S. and Asia, and then trekked up to BC as part of the Asia Trekking team, whose permit is was climbing on, but he was doing the climb on a mostly independent basis. While in Kathmandu, he purchased a small, 2’x2′ “Free Tibet” banner, and carried it with him to Everest, where he showed it to Willie Benegas,a guide for Mountain Madness, someone that Holland had met while climbing in the past.

Upon seeing the banner, Benegas advised him that it could bring a lot of trouble, and asked Holland if he had read the permit that he was climbing under. Obviously he hadn’t, and he claims to have had no idea that he wasn’t suppose to be carrying any kind of flags or banners that mentioned Tibet. Benegas advised him to “get rid of it, burn it, throw it in crevasse”, but instead Holland gave it to Sherpa Lapka, who then gave the flag to Holland’s climbing leader, who in turn passed it on to the authorities. From there, it was all a blur. They yanked him off the mountain and sent him home as soon as they could.

For Holland, it was the end of his attempt on Everest, which he says he spent upwards of $40k preparing for. It would have potentially been his sixth of the seven summits (leaving Vinson for last), but instead it was deportation, becoming the talk of the mountaineering community, and one pricey lesson.

The interview is the first chance we’ve had to hear the whole story directly from Holland, although rumors have been circulating about the events that led to his dismissal for some time. While this does clarify things, and I do have a bit more sympathy for him now, I still find it quite hard to believe that he had no idea that “Free Tibet” or other anti-China signs/flags were barred from the mountain. Perhaps it was an epic case of miscommunication, and it’s too bad that it came down to that. Perhaps they’ll allow him to come back and finish up his climb in the future, but for now, he’s back in the U.S. and his wallet is a lot lighter.

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5 thoughts on “NG Adventure Blog Interviews Everest Deportee”

  1. Couple of other climbers posted that they heard there was a very strong ‘anti-China’ statement written on the banner. The NG interviewer didn’t ask Holland about it, but if it’s true – it is no wonder Willie nearly had a heart attack.

  2. Can’t blame Willie for reacting the way he did, Holland was pretty stupid for not being aware of what was going on with the Chinese on the mountain this year.

    HOWEVER that being said I have to say that it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Asian Trekking notified the authorities so they could pocket the money he paid for the trip and not actually have to provide all of the services they were paid for since he would be deported. They knew that so it wouldn’t surprise me if they orchestrated his dismissal.

    I also have to wonder if “Sherpa Lakpa” is the same person as “Lakpa Sherpa” or “Lhakpa Sherpa” who is a famous FEMALE sherpa married to Romanian-American George Dijmarescu. It wouldn’t surprise me considering Lhakpa and George are on Everest every year and they have a tight relationship with Asia Trekking.

    If anyone has read the Michael Kodas book High Crimes you will be familiar with Lhakpa, George and Asia Trekking. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

    Michael Kodas is a bigger man then me. If I had witnessed George Dijmarescu do some of the things mentioned in the book… they would have been picking my crampons out of his ass.

  3. On further investigation, the “Sherpa Lakpa” mentioned by Holland is not the same “Lhakpa Sherpa” that is the famous female sherpa.

    However, my comments regarding Asia Trekking still stand. They certainly have a knack for having their name brought up when any controversy happens on the mountain. David Sharp anyone?

    Don’t people realize there is a reason that companies like Asia Trekking cost so much less than other more reputable companies?

  4. Car, you make some great points about Asia Trekking. They do seem to find their name in the news when it comes to controversial stories, and this is another one. They have a bit of a reputation for being careless, so I I guess you could see them failing to inform Holland about the rules, but if he had other anti-Chinese statements on his flag, than that’s a pretty telling point to the story as well.

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