Spring 2015 | CTMA Winning Hearts, Nepalese Officials Eager to Pronounce “Everest is Open”

Mountaineering bureaucracy in China has received its share of criticism in past, mainly due to visa issues and sudden cancellation of climbing permits. This winter, Denis Urubko, Alex Txikon and Adam Bielecki’s K2 Northside attempt was thwarted after their permit was retraced just a couple of days ahead of team’s departure. However, role of China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) has been commendable during Nepal earthquake. Contrarily, Nepalese officials’ unwise and ambiguous remarks have been widely criticized.

Halting Climbing Activities in Tibet
Climbers were either in Base Camps or Advance Base Camps of Everest (Northside), Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma at the time of earthquake. Rock falls and avalanches were reported from all three mountains. Fortunately, there were no injuries or serious damages. Following the earthquake, CTMA ordered all climbing teams to return to Base Camp till further decision - mainly to avoid any damage during aftershocks.

Heather Geluk shared first image of Shisha Pangma after earthquake. She says that an avalanche came down main summit of the mountain and hit almost all campsites. “It looks like a completely different mountain to what it did 2 weeks ago,” she says referring to change in mountain’s structure. Source

CTMA officials arrived at Everest Base Camp on April 27th to discuss way forward with expedition leaders. “The CTMA is struggling as hard as all of us to decide the future of this season and how best to support the Sherpa community and Nepal as a whole,” Adrian Ballinger wrote that evening. Nima Tsering, head of Tibetan Mountaineering Association himself reached BC on April 28th. Eventually the decision to cancel expeditions for this year was finalized.

Press release from Chinese Mountaineering Association listed following reasons for climbing suspension.

- Danger of avalanche and rock fall as mountains became unstable after earthquake, particularly in an event of severe aftershock.
- Nepalese mountain workers are not in a frame of mind to resume climbing, and are eager to return to their devastated hometowns.
- To show respect to mountaineers killed at Everest Southside BC.

All climbing teams endorsed the decision made by CTMA.

CTMA officials and climbers meeting at EBC to discuss way forward. Source

Extension in Permits and Other Facilities
Climbing permits of all cancelled Everest Northside, Shisha Pangma and Cho Oyu teams will be valid for three years. Similarly, CTMA has fully facilitated the climbers’ retreat from mountains. They are offering free Lhasa-Kathmandu flights for all Nepalese workers (guides, cooks, and kitchen staff - everyone included).

“On April 28th CTMA officially "closed" the spring season for all expeditions in Tibet. All expedition members and Nepali staff have to leave the country by 14th of May via Lhasa.

CTMA offers free transport, full board and accommodation for up to 4 days in Shigatse and Lhasa for members of expeditions. All Nepali staff will be offered a free transfer to Lhasa and a free flight back to Kathmandu.

Expedition permits for Cho Oyu, Shisha Pangma and Mt Everest are personalized and will be valid for 3 years. There is only a small fee of 300/500 USD payable for getting the new permit.

Tsedoon, a nice lady of CTMA, is handling all expeditions in Lhasa. She is dealing with visa separation, flights and air cargo. Everything is running in a very professional way. Thanks Nima Tsering and staff!” German climber Thomas Lammle, leader of Amical Alpin Cho Oyu expedition, wrote today.

Photo of Thomas Lammle's Cho Oyu permit extension till 2018. Source

Nepal’s Eagerness to Keep Everest “Open”
Unlike CTMA’s clear stance, Nepalese officials have been making contradictory statements about Everest Southside. AFP quoted Nepalese tourism department chief Tulsi Gautam on April 30th, "the ladders will be repaired in the next two to three days and climbing will continue, there is no reason for anyone to quit their expeditions."

Another official said, “We have not called off the expeditions. A couple of teams have told us they still want to go ahead. Adventure is like that. It is full of the unknown. You have to be safe on your own. The government can't prevent disasters."

Packed up and ready to retreat from Everest North BC; Source

Yes, No, May be?
South African Everest team reached Namache a couple of days ago and is currently on the way to EBC. “Yesterday as we arrived, we had an enlightening and surprise encounter with the ‘Icefall doctors’. This morning I had a coffee with them before they flew out by helicopter to Gorak Shep and then onto Base Camp. They are geared up and heading up to assess and re-open the route for any expedition wishing to continue climbing.

Of course there is no guarantee that may happen as the route may be too badly affected. But if it is opened, then the first obstacles to continue climbing may be overcome.

Then there’s the route to Camp 2 and beyond that we have to consider. Only time will tell.” Sean Wisedale of South African wrote on May 2nd.

However, report from Himalayan Experience contradicts the claim that Icefall Doctors are willing to resume the climb. “Even this evening (May 2nd) I received a phone call from SPCC to inform me that they would not be continuing to fix rope on the mountain,” wrote Russel Brice. “At the same time I even have some members who now want to climb by themselves. Thus I have decided that they are no longer part of my team.”
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