Commercial expeditions return to the north side of Mount Everest

North side of Mount Everest
North side of Mount Everest

After a four-year interruption, this spring will see the return of a “normal” season for commercial expeditions on the north side of Mount Everest in Tibet. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese-Tibetan authorities had closed the eight-thousanders in Tibet to foreign teams from 2020 to 2022. Only Chinese expeditions were permitted.

In spring 2023, the authorities waited so long to issue permits that the foreign operators ran out of time and ultimately decided against Everest expeditions via the Northeast Ridge route. This time, around a handful of foreign teams are expected at the base camp on the Rongbuk Glacier. “Everything is going normally so far,” Lukas Furtenbach writes to me. His company, Furtenbach Adventures, will be on the north side with 18 clients this season.

“Waiting game”

Everest base camp on the north side (in 2005)
Everest Base Camp on the north side (in 2005)

For Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of Imagine Nepal, the normality is to remain cool in the face of the halting proceedings of the Chinese-Tibetan authorities. “As always, it’s just a waiting game. They are hopeful to give us climbing permits in the beginning of April,” writes Mingma, whose company will have five clients on the north side of Everest.

Other operators with experience of Tibet had also announced expeditions to the Chinese side for this spring, including Seven Summit Treks, Nepal’s largest expedition operator, as well as Kobler & Partner from Switzerland and Climbalaya from Nepal, both of which are known for their close contacts in Tibet. It is not yet clear how many clients these three companies will have there. My inquiries have so far gone unanswered.

Climbs without breathing masks prohibited

A yak is loaded at the foot of Mount Everest (in 2005)
Five yaks per climber from base camp to ABC are included in the permit, four for the way back

The prices in Tibet are still the same as after the last increase before the 2020 season (which was then canceled): The Chinese-Tibetan authorities charge 15,800 US dollars per person for a standard Everest package, and 18,000 dollars for the luxury version. However, unlike in Nepal, this also includes hotel accommodation and material transportation with yaks. The teams must consist of at least four members.

In addition, foreign clients are required to have climbed at least one seven-thousander before their Everest attempt. From an altitude of 7,000 meters, i.e. the North Col, all climbers must use bottled oxygen. Thusm attempts without a breathing mask are prohibited. The number of permits is capped at 300. In all likelihood, there will be significantly fewer this spring.

Nepal expects over 400 Everest aspirants

There is no such restriction in Nepal. Last year, the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu issued a record number of 478 permits for the south side of Mount Everest – at a price of 11,000 dollars per permit. From 2025 onwards, the government wants the price to rise to 15,000 dollars. According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times “, again more than 400 foreign mountaineers are expected this spring.

Shishapangma: Mourning for four avalanche victims

Shishapangma
Shishapangma

The Chinese-Tibetan authorities have pulled the brakes. After two avalanches hit the summit zone of the eight-thousander Shishapangma on Saturday, they declared that “all climbing activities have been suspended in view of the unstable snow conditions on the mountain.” Apparently, this applies not only currently, but also for the rest of the fall season.

On Saturday, as reported, the US American Anna Gutu and her Nepalese mountain guide Mingmar Sherpa had died in a first avalanche. Their bodies had been found – unlike those of Gina Marie Rzucidlo, also from the U.S., and her Nepalese mountain guide Tenjen “Lama” Sherpa, who were swept away by another avalanche about two hours later. The search for the two missing people was suspended.

Continue reading “Shishapangma: Mourning for four avalanche victims”
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