There is an interesting news story making the rounds that suggest that the provincial government in Tibet could ban all vehicles going to Everest Base Camp that aren’t powered by electric motors. The new rules could be in place as early as next spring, requiring all mountaineers, support teams, guides, and even visitors to use electric vehicles when driving to BC on the North Side of the mountain.
Those who follow the Everest climbing scene closely already know that it is possible to drive to Base Camp in Tibet, as opposed to trekking to BC on the South Side in Nepal. The trek actually requires roughly ten days to complete, while those climbing from the north can simply get in a vehicle and be at camp within a few days, taking stops to help acclimatize to the change in altitude along the way. This is one of the reasons many have favored climbing from the Tibetan side of the mountain, which is also less crowded than the more popular Nepali route up the South Col.
Additionally, the Chinese government has been investing heavily in Everest over the past few years, building a hotel and museum close to Base Camp, while also working on running a train line to shuttle adventure travelers and climbers to the mountain. The once bumpy dirt road that leads to BC was also paved recently, making it easier for caravans of vehicles to approach the campsite. As you can imagine, this has led to an increase in the amount of traffic coming and going from the Everest region, which is scene as a fragile ecosystem that must be protected.
To that end, Tibetan and Chinese officials have begun taking measures to ensure the area stays safe, clean, and accessible. More than 8 tons of trash have been brought down from the mountain in an effort to safeguard Everest for future climbers to enjoy too. Increased regulation on what climbers and their teams are required to do with the trash and human waste that is generated during the climbing season are designed to help maintain the environment there as well. This potential new ban on non-electric vehicles will help cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful exhaust products that are being pumped into the atmosphere.
Electric buggies are used in other areas of China to help cut down on emissions as well, and now it seems those same eco-friendly vehicles are coming to Everest too. It’s hard to see this as anything but a good move for the environment around the world’s highest peak of course, but hopefully electric expedition vehicles will be up to the task of shuttling climbers, gear, and supplies to and from region. More and more EV’s are being developed and released all the time and this appears to be another interesting place for them to be pressed into service.
Personally, I’d love to drive a high quality electric adventure vehicle to Everest Base Camp. That sounds like a lot of fun. We’ll keep our ears and eyes open to this story as it continues to develop.