China and Nepal are Battling it Out for the Future of Everest

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Last week I wrote a story about how evolving politics and climate change are having an impact on expeditions to Everest. That post was prompted by an article from Channel Newsasia, which examined a potentially growing trends of mountaineering operators choosing to head north into Tibet rather than staying in Nepal. Now, another article is taking a closer look at what could be a mounting battle between the two nations to see who will lure climbers to the world’s highest peak in the future.

This week’s article comes our way courtesy of Men’s Journal, which has been knocking it out of the park lately with its adventure coverage. This story takes a closer look at how China and Nepal are squaring off with one another to see which of them will play the most prominent role in the direction that Everest will go in the years ahead.

On the one hand, you have the traditional South Side climb in Nepal, which has been the most trafficked route on the mountain for decades. Most climbers go there because they know what to expect, it has been a stable environment for years, and while there are some annoyances and bureaucratic issues to contend with, it is generally a known quantity.

In contrast to this, China has shut its borders on multiple occasions and has tightly controlled access to Base Camp for some time. But, that is changing quickly, and the country is investing heavily in infrastructure – including a new climbing school. Chinese and Tibetan officials of underscored the fact that they are focused on making the North Side much safer and accommodating to climbers.  That includes launching a helicopter rescue service by the 2019 season, matching the one that has been active in Nepal for some time.

Like the previous article that I linked to, this one also quotes Alpenglow Expeditions leader Adrian Ballinger, who moved his operations to the North Side three years back. This year, the Altitude Junkies are following suit, and is seems others could join them. And while this isn’t likely to be a major shift that takes place in just a year or so, the days of simply going to Nepal to climb seem to be nearly over. China is prepared to offer real competition, and considering some of the dubious choices and actions by the Nepali government over the past few years, their stronghold on Everest could soon be coming to an end.

Check out MJ’s full story here.

Kraig Becker