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Chinese Govt. prohibits Nepali expedition from North Col

Mount Everest is the ultimate destination for mountain climbers. Every year thousands of climbers visit Nepal and Tibet (China) in fulfilling their dreams of conquering the Everest. No matter what, people spend thousands of dollars and hard effort to satisfy their dreams, which adversely has been one of the important sources of revenue generation for both the countries.

Apart from the hardship of climbing, the different expedition teams of Nepal have paved their way in scaling the Everest from Tibet side creating a better opportunity for climbers and their security. Now, when the news of prohibition of Nepalese expedition and climbers from the North Col came out, a question has been raised among Nepalese expedition team to plea against the restriction, as it directly affects hundreds of people’s employment and earning.

Climbing Everest from Nepal’s side is considered more adventurous, panoramic but costly due to its rugged and steep terrain where as the North Col from Tibet side is famous for viability of reaching its base camp on wheels and less royalty charge.

Diwas Pokheral, General Secretary of Everest Summiteers Association (ESA) said, “Tourists of different economic status come to scale the Everest every year. Those climbers who are more adventurous and like to take challenges choose to climb Everest from the South Col trail while the others of low economic status choose the North Col. No matter what the ultimate goal of experiencing Everest can be done from both sides.”

He opined, “The current decision made by the Chinese government to restrict Nepalese climbers and expedition from scaling the north side is hard hitting as currently more than 80% of the expedition organized by Nepalese companies are planned through the North Col.”

The news has certainly worried the Nepalese Mountaineering and Expedition Companies as it directly displaces thousands of people employed under the companies. On the behalf, He asserted, “We are currently planning to coordinate with the Prime Minister's office to have a ministerial level talk to solve the crisis, as it directly involve the earning of thousand of people and contributes a huge portion to country’s economy.”

“Moreover, the Chinese government is trying to focus on utilizing its work force rather by prohibiting the Nepalese expedition and climbers from the North Col”, added Pokheral.

Currently the Chinese government is paving a 108-km (66-mile) dirt road from Tingri County to its Base Camp in order to accommodate growing numbers of climbers on their side of the mountain. It will become the highest asphalt-paved road in the world. Construction began on June 18, 2007, at a cost of 150 million yuan (US$19.7 million). China also plans on routing the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay over Everest, going up the South Col route and back down the North Col route, on the way to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Kami Sherpa, six times Everest summiteers said, “First we should reduce the royalty and should open other mountain for climbing. As the basic problem is differences in royalty paid, which is diverting people to North Col, if the Nepal government reduces royalty fee and provides effective services then climbers will certainly give priority to our trail.”

Likewise, the mountaineering industry should be prioritized focusing on qualitative and well trained professional, “The climbers visit the country for relaxation and enjoyment. They come here to see natural beauty and mountains rather than to face Bandhas and Strikes, apart from that the lack of proper solid waste management in the Everest region has certainly put a question on issue of charging high royalty and not retaining it”, stated Sherpa.

Ironically foreign tourists cleaning the Everest region time to time has come as an embarrassment for all the Nepalese despite charging such a high royalty and is an issue to talk and debate about.

Zimba Zamgbu Sherpa, Managing Director of Khumbi–Ila Mountaineering and Trekking (P) Ltd said, "Currently the Chinese guide are busy for the preparation for the Olympic 2008 and the Chinese government is trying to focus its work force in the industry, which cannot be questioned."
Moreover Nepalese climbers and guides are more experienced and professional so if the government creates favorable environment here then the prospect can be better. “Regarding the issue of prohibition, if the Chinese government does it then it will certainly affect the hundreds of guides and climbers in Nepal. The government should resolve this problem through a dialogue with the Tibet government”, added Zamgbu.

“Perhaps in current situation, the Chinese visitors have to pay a low VISA charge where as Nepalese has to pay a large VISA fee while entering Tibet, which needs to be sorted out”, added Sherpa.

Jyoti Adhakari, Managing Director of Eco Trek International said, "The new policy will certainly have an effect but as said demand creates its own supply. Like wise on the other hand, it will help to strengthen our own resource in self-sustaining the industry. "

"In tourism the people are more focused towards their selfish motives rather than for the development of the industry, first we should be able to update and develop new skill then the opportunity will come to us ", said Adhikari.

He suggested that perhaps there should be a common ground with no restriction of Prohibition where both the countries should openly use Everest as a focal point by sharing a common policy.

"Currently in the mountaineering industry we are just exploiting the labor rather than to utilizing them, we should channel our resource for self-sustainability by creating better opportunities for the industry and the people working in it. Mountaineering courses should be taught in the schools in order to develop quality human resources for mountaineering and trekking business in Nepal,” added Adhikari.

Though the new policy of restricting Nepalese expeditions from Tibet side is still not confirmed, it has certainly raised question regarding the future of Nepal's mountaineering industry where as on the other hand, it certainly gives hope for a strong and sustainable development of the Nepalese mountaineering industry.

By Shreedeep Rayamajhi

Publication: Nepal Traveller Publication
Magzine: Nepal Travel Trade Reporter
Date of issue:September 3-16 2007
Issue: 36
page no: 44 and 45 (Highlight)


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