The Chinese have announced that they will reopen the borders to Tibet on April 5th, just ahead of the high season for tourism and mountaineering in the country. You may recall that they shut down the borders in early March for fear that there would be violent protests in the country to mark the anniversary of the Dalai Lama fleeing to India 50 years ago.
This comes as good news for the few remaining teams on the North Side of Everest, and for those that have been planning trips to Cho Oyu as well. As of now, I believe there are about a half-dozen teams still planning on climbing from the North, and with the China-Tibet Mountaineering Assocation promising to fix the lines, it’s beginning to look like the patience of the teams that elected to stick it out, will be rewarded. They’re likely to have a very quiet and tranquil base camp, two words that will not be used to describe the counterpart on the South Side. The lack of traffic will also likely prove very advantageous on Summit Day as well.
Hopefully the reopening of the borders will also mean an influx of tourists to Tibet. The country was already suffering economically thanks to a general downturn in travel due to global economic conditions. This past month there has been no foreign visitors at all to Tibet, which has further hurt the many people who earn a living in the tourism trade that is so vital there. Perhaps this is a signal that things will return to normal soon.
There are reports however that the Chinese military is still maintaining a strong presence in the country, and that foreign press and aid workers are still not allowed to travel unescorted. it seems that while the borders may once again be open, China still isn’t ready to completely loosen its grip on Tibet.
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