Everest 2010: China Says – “No Traverses For You!”

Alan Arnette had an interesting bit of news posted to his Everest 2010 blog yesterday. It seems just two months before the climbers will descend on Kathmandu, the Chinese have found a way to throw a crimp in some plans for the upcoming season. The Chinese Tibet Mountaineering Association, the governing body that oversees the permitting procedure on that side of the mountain, has announced that they will not be issuing any permits that would allow a climber to make a traverse of Everest this year.

For those who are unfamiliar with a traverse, it is an ascent in which the climber begins on one side of the mountain, say Nepal, makes the usual climb to the summit, and then descends down the other side of the mountain into Tibet. Of course it can work in the opposite direction too, going from Tibet to Nepal.

While the vast majority of climbers won’t even notice that this restriction is in place, there were several who have been planning to make a traverse. For instance, Australian climber Andrew Lock was hoping to make the first ever traverse without oxygen and Gavin Turner was going to try for the first ever double traverse. In this case, a double traverse would be starting on one side, climbing to the top, descending on the other, then resting for several days before reversing the route back to the summit and returning to where the climber started.

This change in the permits has forced climbers to make some changes to their plans. Andrew hasn’t said what he’ll do just yet, and Gavin is now jumping over to Annapurna instead. Meanwhile, Alan notes that David Liano and Bill Burke, who were hoping to make a traverse, will instead attempt a double summit, making one climb on the North Side in Tibet, then traveling to the South Side in Nepal, and making a second climb from there. If successful, this will be the first time that that has been done as well.

While this is a fairly minor bump in the road for most, it is a bit disheartening for these climbers who have been planning for a traverse, which have been done a number of times in recent years on Everest. The CTMA hasn’t said why they’ve stopped issuing these permits, but Alan speculates that they’re hoping to have a climber from China become the first to make the actual double traverse. Yay for national pride!

Kraig Becker