Last we received word that Ice Doctors has arrived in Everest Base Camp to begin fixing the route through the Khumbu Icefall ahead of the arrival of fall expedition to the mountain. But this past Sunday, Kripasur Sherpa – Nepal’s tourism minister – officially issued a climbing permit to Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki and declared the mountain open for business, a significant step in starting the process of luring back travelers and climbers following the April 25 earthquake that killed more than 9000 people there.
The permit was given to Kuriki in a ceremony held in Kathmandu. That ceremony was as much about letting the world know that Everest is accepting teams again as it was to grant the permit to the Japanese climber. An avalanche caused by the earthquake killed 18 people in Base Camp on the mountain, bringing an abrupt end to the climbing season for a second year in a row. In 2014, another avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Nepali’s working on the mountain.
Kuriki won’t be waiting around long to get his expedition started. He reportedly left Kathmandu via helicopter today for the Khumbu region and will trek into BC to start his climb. He hopes to make a summit bid by mid-September, well ahead of the typical fall climbing schedule. That would also indicate that he has been acclimatizing somewhere else ahead of the start of his expedition.
The Japanese climber is no stranger to Everest. He attempted a solo fall summit a few years back, but was forced to turn back do to bad weather. He ended up getting stranded on the mountain and required the assistance of a team of Sherpas to help him down, and as a result he suffered severe frostbite that eventually cost him nine of his fingers. When he makes this second attempt on the world’s tallest peak he’ll be doing so without the use of those digits.
We will of course be keeping a close eye on the emerging climbing season in the Himalaya. Not only is this team heading to Everest, but others are on their way to the big mountains as well. There should be a lot to report on in the days ahead, and it will be interesting to see how the tourism sector in Nepal rebounds following the earthquake.
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