No permits for Shishapangma – for the north side of Everest only in May

Shishapangma
Shishapangma, the only eight-thousander located entirely in Tibet

An unusually large number of foreign eight-thousander climbers have been staying in the Langtang National Park, around 50 kilometers north of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, these days. The reason was obvious: the border to Tibet is close by and the five- and six-thousanders of Langtang are ideal for acclimatization. The teams were waiting for entry and climbing permits for China, where they wanted to try their hand at the eight-thousanders Shishapangma and Mount Everest this spring.

All those who wanted to climb the 8,027-meter-high Shishapangma received disappointing news today: the lowest of the 14 eight-thousanders remains closed. “After 17 days of waiting for an answer about the possibility of climbing Shishapangma in Tibet, we were informed that climbing in the region will not be allowed this year,” wrote Brazilian Moeses Fiamoncini on Instagram. “Now is the time to rethink our plans and redirect our energy towards exploring new challenges.”

Everest permits only after the Chinese holidays

Fiamoncini has already summited seven eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen; Shishapangma was to be number eight. Several dozen climbers had applied for permits for this eight-thousander. “It’s cancelled for this season,” confirms Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the expedition operator Imagine Nepal, “but Everest will happen.” Mingma expects the permits for the highest mountain on earth “on May 6 or 7, maybe even earlier”.

Tibetan north side of Mount Everest
Tibetan north side of Mount Everest (in spring 2005)

While Labor Day is celebrated worldwide on 1 May, in China all stores, offices and schools remain closed until 5 May to mark the occasion. Other expedition operators told ExplorersWeb that 7 May would be the date on which the border will open for the Everest teams. In return, the season should last longer than usual: until 11 June. Lukas Furtenbach, head of the Austrian operator Furtenbach Adventures, disagrees. The season also ends in Tibet on 1 June, he writes to me. Part of his team on the north side is now moving to the south side, says Lukas. The remaining clients continue to wait.

After a four-year break, the foreign expeditions want to return to the north side of Mount Everest this year. It is shaping up to be a comeback with obstacles. Meanwhile, the Nepalese government has so far (as of 22 April) issued 364 permits for the south side of Everest. Last year at this time (21 April 2023), there were already 454 climbing permits. A decrease of 23.8 percent.

Update 24 April: After the British operator Adventure Peak, the Dutch expedition leader Arnold Coster, who lives in Nepal, has also pulled the ripcord and sent his team to the south side of Nepal. “The Chinese authorities keep delaying our entry date and now I feel like waiting any longer is too risky,” Coster writes on Instagram. “After more than a dozen Everest North expeditions I simply think the gamble on a late summit is too big. Yes, there been years when people summited late, but I have also seen years when the season just abruptly stops when the monsoon arrives.”

Update 25 April: The field of teams that wanted to ascend via the north side of Everest is getting smaller and smaller. Now Andreas Neuschmid, expedition leader of the Swiss operator Kobler & Partner, has also announced that his team switches to the Nepalese south side.

Norrdine Nouar after Annapurna summit success: “I’m still in the eight-thousander learning phase”

Norrdine Nouar on the summit of Annapurna I
Norrdine Nouar on the summit of Annapurna I

Norrdine Nouar has scaled his second eight-thousander without bottled oxygen. Last Sunday (14 April), the 36-year-old German mountaineer stood on the 8,091-meter-high summit of Annapurna I in western Nepal. In spring 2023, Nouar had already scaled the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse. Norrdine did not join any large teams on either occasion, but went it alone – on the normal routes, which were secured with fixed ropes by the commercial teams.

Nouar was a late bloomer when it came to mountaineering. Neither his family nor his friends were drawn to the mountains. He is the son of a native Algerian who came to the former GDR as a guest worker and met his future German wife there. Norrine grew up in the southern German state of Franconia, studied International Technology Management and spent his free time playing computer games rather than going out into nature.

So why did the mountain fever take hold of him at some point? “Ever since I can remember, I have been driven by an insatiable curiosity, a thirst for adventure and the constant urge to take on a new challenge,” Norrdine writes on his website. “I couldn’t help but opt for an uncertain adventure. So I went to the mountains, albeit late.” He reached his first summit at the age of 23. He later climbed four-thousand-metre peaks in the Alps, in the High Atlas in Morocco and also high mountains in the Caucasus and other mountain regions around the world. Nouar has stood on the summits of Mont Blanc, Elbrus and Kilimanjaro, among others. He lives in the municipality of Oberstaufen in the Bavarion region of Allgäu.

After his summit success on Annapurna, Norrdine, currently in Kathmandu, answered my questions.

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Bumpy start to the season on Mount Everest

The Icefall Doctors ascend in the Khumbu Icefall. One of them pulls a ladder behind him.
The Icefall Doctors doing their dangerous work in the Khumbu Icefall

That was a hard piece of work. Yesterday, Thursday, the Icefall Doctors finally announced the completion of their work. The route from the base camp on the Nepalese south side of Mount Everest through the Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters has been secured with fixed ropes, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) announced.

The eight Icefall Doctors – Ang Sarki Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Pemba Tshering Sherpa, Ngima Tenzi Sherpa, Ngawang Chhimi Sherpa, Dawa Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Jangbu Sherpa and Mingma Gyaljen Sherpa – had needed ten working days more than originally planned, Tshering Sherpa, chief executive officer at SPCC, told the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”. They were “struggling hard”, he said. The team found a route through the ice labyrinth only on the third attempt.

The SPCC and its Icefall Doctors are responsible for securing the lower part of the ascent route. Above Camp 2, a team from a Nepalese expedition operator takes over the task of rope-fixing up to the summit at 8,849 meters on behalf of the Expedition Operators’ Association Nepal (EOA-Nepal). This year, Seven Summit Treks, the largest expedition operator in Nepal, is responsible for this.

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Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa: „More and more dry winters in the Everest region

Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa
Tenzing Ch

As if there were no other problems on Mount Everest. For weeks, social media has been discussing a new signboard that the regional administration of the Khumbu region put up at the entrance to Everest Base Camp before the start of this year’s climbing season – directly in front of the boulder marked with paint that has served as a photo motif in recent years. There’s no accounting for taste – on both counts. The new sign shows Everest and in front of it Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who were the first people to scale the highest mountain on earth in 1953. Only one member of that expedition team is still alive: Kanchha Sherpa, now 91 years old.

I spoke to his grandson Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa – not about the new sign at Everest Base Camp, but about the consequences of climate change for the Everest region. The winter of 2023/2024 – like the previous one – was exceptionally warm and dry. Tenzing is a glaciologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and works on the cryosphere, in simple terms everything to do with snow, ice and permafrost on Earth. The research of the 31-year-old scientist from Nepal focuses on the glaciers and glacial lakes in the mountainous regions of Asia.

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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.

Mount Everest: Tracking chip mandatory

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)

Who is where on Mount Everest? In future, it should also be possible to answer this question electronically. As reported this week by Indian media and now also by the US television channel CNN, from this spring onwards, summit contenders will be required to carry a tracking chip with them. The chips, which cost between 10 and 15 dollars and are manufactured in Europe, are to be sewn into the down jackets of the mountaineers.

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Biogas plant on Mount Everest: only the money for construction is still missing

The Nepalese south side of Mount Everest
The Nepalese south side of Mount Everest

Bringing the excrements down from Mount Everest is one thing, what happens to it in the valley is another. As reported, from this spring onwards, all mountaineers on the Nepalese south side of Mount Everest and on the neighboring eight-thousander Lhotse will have to collect their excrement in special “poo bags” and bring it back to base camp. This news made headlines around the world. But virtually no one asked what should happen to the faeces afterwards.

Careless disposal

Faeces from Everest are disposed of in a pit
Faeces from Everest are disposed of in a pit

The poo bags will probably also be put into the blue garbage cans that have been used to collect faeces at base camp since 1996. So-called “shit porters” then carry the garbage cans down the valley, where their contents are disposed of in pits near Gorak Shep (at 5,180 meters) or Lobuche (4,940 meters), the last settlements before the base camp. A careless behaviour.

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New regulation: Everest climbers must use poo bags

Mount Everest
Mount Everest

It stinks to high heaven. This is now to be a thing of the past on the highest mountain on earth. Anyone who wants to climb Mount Everest or the neighboring eight-thousander Lhotse from the Nepalese south side from this spring onwards must buy so-called “poo bags” at base camp and use them if they need to relieve themselves on the mountain.

“Our mountains have begun to stink,” Mingma Sherpa, head of the local administration of the Khumbu region, told the BBC: “We are getting complaints that human stools are visible on rocks and some climbers are falling sick. This is not acceptable and erodes our image.”

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Winter attempts on the eight-thousanders Annapurna I and Gasherbrum I

Annapurna massif
Northwestern view of Annapurna (the main summit on the left)

“Although December is a very good and pleasant month in Nepal – I would say it is the best month of the year – the wind has made us suffer a lot,” Alex Txikon wrote on Instagram the day before yesterday. “It has blown between 70-80 km/hour, and we stopped very close to Chulu Far East, 6,059m. It is a nice mountain, but the wind has made us suffer … The most important thing is that we have spent many nights at high altitudes.” The 42-year-old Spaniard and his team are currently acclimatizing in the region around the eight-thousander Annapurna I in western Nepal for a winter attempt on the tenth highest mountain on earth.

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Everest ski descent via Hornbein Couloir?

The Tibetan north side of Mount Everest (in 2005)
The Tibetan North Face of Mount Everest (in 2005)

Fall projects on Mount Everest, once commonplace, have become rare. Because of the often rather bad weather, commercial expeditions give the highest mountain on earth a wide berth in the post-monsoon season, concentrating instead on Manaslu in western Nepal or the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu and Shishapanga in Tibet – provided the Chinese-Tibetan authorities clear these mountains.

In fall 2022, a Polish team led by ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel had attempted the Nepalese south side of Everest. Bargiel, who wanted to climb to the summit without bottled oxygen and ski down to base camp, and his companion Janusz Golab had aborted their summit attempt at the South Col at almost 8,000 meters. They had been greeted by such violent gusts of wind that they had not even been able to pitch their tent.

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Everest permits to become more expensive – also in Tibet?

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)

The Nepalese Ministry of Tourism wants to significantly increase the price for ascents of Mount Everest, by about 36 percent. The permit for foreign climbers should cost $15,000 from 2025 instead of the current $11,000, ministry spokesman Yubaraj Khatiwada told various media. However, the price increase should not take effect until the spring season after next, as the booking phase for spring 2024 has already begun, Khatiwada said.

While Nepal’s frequently changing governments have earned a reputation in recent years for very frequently announcing new regulations without subsequently implementing them. But a permit price hike seems quite realistic, given that the last increase was more than eight years ago. Another representative of the Ministry said that in the course of the reform, the insurance sums and wages for porters, high altitude porters and mountain guides should also be increased.

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Mount Everest: Permit record, ropes fixed to the South Col

Sunrise on Mount Everest
Sunrise on Mount Everest (in fall 2019)


Mount Everest remains a crowd puller. Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism issued permits for 454 foreign climbers to the world’s highest mountain so far this spring season (as of 21 April) – already more than ever before. Most of them come from China (96), the second most from the USA (87). Since a permit costs $11,000, this has already flushed around five million U.S. dollars into the Nepalese government’s coffers.

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Mount Everest: Andrzej Bargiel hopes the wind will calm down

Andrzej Bargiel
Andrzej Bargiel (© Bartlomiej Pawlikowski/Red Bull Content Pool)

“Unfortunately, the weather conditions didn’t let them go for another attempt of a summit attack today,” reads Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel’s Instagram account. “The team stays overnight in Camp 2, and tomorrow will decide whether to continue the summit push. If the weather forecast is confirmed, it will be possible on Sunday/Monday.”

Then the wind on Mount Everest is expected to calm down significantly. From Tuesday, however, new snowfall must be expected. And from Thursday at the latest, the wind could freshen up again. So – if at all – only a small weather window will open up for Bargiel and Co.

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One of over 400: Everest summiteer Gerhard Osterbauer

Gerhard Osterbauer on the summit of Mount Everest
Gerhard Osterbauer on the summit of Mount Everest

“Maybe I set a record: 30 years for the Seven Summits!” says Gerhard Osterbauer and laughs. The 53-year-old Austrian reached the highest point of Mount Everest at 8,849 meters last Friday at 7:15 a.m. local time – with bottled oxygen – as one of more than 400 climbers who ascended to the summit via Nepal’s south side over the past week and a half.

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Wanted: The Everest Pinocchio test

Oh, if only all the Everest climbers were Pinocchios! Then it would be very easy to distinguish the liars from those who tell the truth. We’d just have to watch – as with the legendary title character of Carlo Collodi’s children’s book – if their noses had become longer, and we’d have caught the culprits. Also this spring some Everest climbers would have got longer noses.

The Indian female climber Vikas Rana and her male compatriots Shobha Banwala and Ankush Kasana claimed to have reached the highest point at 8,850 metres at 10.30 a.m. on 26 May. According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, however, the trio was sighted more than 3,300 meters lower only two hours later: back at base camp. To do this, they would have had to get wings. Other climber reported that the trio did not make it above Camp 3 at about 7,150 meters. On 26 May, a strong wind blew on the summit of Everest. Only a day later did a larger team reach the highest point again.

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