Yesterday Outside magazine posted a story about a disturbing incident that took place on the North Side of Everest back in May. It seems that a group of young men, all graduates from the Tibet Mountaineering Guide School (TMGS), assaulted a Chinese climber that they suspected of being on the mountain without a permit. When the man raised his ice axe in an attempt to defend himself, the group over powered him, roped his hands together and proceeded to force him back down the mountain. One witness who saw the incident is quoted in the article as saying, “It was disgraceful. They literally kicked him down the ropes. It was a disgusting example of a pack of bullies egging each other on and literally beating him down the hill.”
Obviously being on the mountain without a permit is a major offense and Outside writer Grayson Schaffer says this climber was keeping to himself, which is a dead giveaway of someone trying to keep a low profile on the world’s tallest mountain. But that certainly doesn’t justify the treatment of this man, who would normally be fined heavily, kicked off the hill and possibly banned from climbing in Tibet for a period of time.
To add a bit more fuel to the fire, the climber also happened to be Chinese. Considering the delicate nature of the relationship between the Tibetans and the Chinese, its possible that the young men involved in this incident may have let pent up frustrations boil over to a degree. There is also a fear that the Chinese government could react harshly to the treatment of a Chinese citizen, possibly cracking down further on the Tibetans.
The Outside article says that the entire incident was captured on film mountain guide Kari Kobler who is one of the founders of Kobler & Partner, a company that leads expeditions to the North Side on an annual basis. Kobler says that he has no intention of releasing the film and that he has ties to the TMGS, where discipline is being handled internally. Kobler also indicated that the same group of thugs may have been involved in other problems on the North Side this year. He didn’t wish to elaborate, but Schaffer speculated it had to do with the theft of bottled oxygen.
Stories like this are always a bit unsettling, as we like to think that their is a camaraderie that exists amongst the climbers on these big mountains. Hopefully this won’t escalate into something really nasty between the Chinese and the Tibetans, but we do know that Beijing doesn’t take kindly to any kinds of displays of aggression there.
The North Side has always been a bit more unruly than the South Side and this could be an indication that that side of the mountain still has a long way to go before it is completely tamed.
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