Exprlorer’s Web is calling the fall season “virtually closed”, but no one has bothered to tell that to the Field Touring Alpine or the Jagged Globe teams, who are both preparing for late season climbs on Ama Dablam. The FTA climbers are currently on Island Peak, a 6189 meter (20,305 feet) mountain that makes for a good acclimatization trek as it requires no real technical mountaineering experience. The Jagged Globe climbers, meanwhile, are still making their way to base camp, and expect to arrive soon. The two teams will have the mountain all to themselves.
Perhaps more of interest however, is the glimpse ahead to the spring, when hundreds of climbers will turn their sights on Everest. Outfitters and guides are starting to make plans for 2009, and most of them exclude Tibet from the picture. Rumors have been circulating for some time that China would once again close the North Side of the mountain, and as such, it would appear that the South will be quite busy again.
The article notes that expeditions from both the Altitude Junkies and Project Himalaya are already planning the logistics of a climb from Nepal, as will the Peak Freaks, Adventure Consultants, and most of the other big guide companies. They all cite vague permitting requirements from China, and a lack of a consistent message on plans for the spring.
For their part, the Chinese have hinted that they may close the mountain for another season in order to clean up base camp and the North Face. You’ll recall that they closed town the Tibetan side of Everest earlier this year in order for the Chinese Torch Team to carry the Olympic Torch to the summit. At the time, the entire country of Tibet was also off limits to foreigners due to protests that were taking place there as well.
Caring for the environment has never been big on China’s agenda, but it seems that in the case of Everest, they want to make an exception. If they take this year off once again to clean up the mountain, then that is a good thing, and they should be commended for it. However, they’ll also need to tightly regulate Everest in the future to prevent it from returning to the same state again. Meanwhile, the economy of Tibet suffers, Nepal gets a boost, and climbers on the South Side can expect delays, long lines, and crowded camps.
But look on the bright side! At least this year they’ll probably be able to use their digital cameras, sat phones, and video cams while on the mountain!
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