No permits for eight-thousanders in Tibet this spring

Tibetan north side of Mount Everest
Tibetan north side of Mount Everest

For the fourth spring in a row, the three eight-thousanders in Tibet – Mount Everest, Shishapangma and Cho Oyu – will probably remain closed to foreign climbers. Kari Kobler, founder of the Swiss expedition operator Kobler&Partner, writes to me that a “100 percent reliable” source in Tibet has informed him that there will be no permits for non-Chinese this spring either. An official announcement, however, is still pending. In the coming fall season, however, the eight-thousanders would be open, and agencies could plan accordingly, Kari learned from Tibet.

Alpenglow canceled Everest expedition

As reported, Kobler&Partner had already moved its expedition originally advertised for this spring for the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest to the Nepalese south side. Meanwhile, U.S.-based Alpenglow Expeditions also canceled its Everest expedition in Tibet. “We do not want to hold our staff any longer when they could book other work,” Adrian Ballinger, head of Alpenglow, wrote to me. However, he says, his company will not switch to the south side, “since we feel the risks there are too high for a normal expedition team. So we will wait one more year for Everest, and in the meantime run a few private groups on other peaks in Nepal this spring.”

Only Chinese summit successes since 2020

The 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma in Tibet

Lukas Furtenbach, head of the Austrian operator Furtenbach Adventures, had expressed rather pessimistic to me in view of the difficult world political situation that it could work out this spring on the Tibetan Everest north side with the permits. But he has no great pressure, because his company also has the Nepalese south side in the program and can thus change there, Lukas said. The Nepalese operator Imagine Nepal had postponed its spring expedition to Shishapangma – the only eight-thousander that lies entirely on Tibetan territory – to the coming fall.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese-Tibetan authorities had only granted permits to Chinese climbers. In spring 2020, there had been about 50 Everest summit successes from the north side, in 2022 about 30. In 2021, an upcoming summit attempt by a Chinese expedition had been called off. Authorities feared the climbers might contract COVID-19 at the highest point – if they met other climbers there who were ascending from Nepal’s south side.

In fall 2020, a Chinese expedition had reported a summit success from the Tibetan side of Cho Oyu. Apart from this, no other ascents of Cho Oyu and Shishapangma have been reported since the beginning of 2020.

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