More stories of violence on Everest this evening as reports come in about a South African man who was nearly killed on Everest by climbers for allegedly purposefully avoiding payment for a necessary $11,000 (€10,104) permit that is required to climb the mountain.
Ryan Sean Davy says he was “treated like a murderer” when he was found cowering in a cave hiding, all in a bid to obscure his presence and not have to pay the $11,000 climbing fee the Nepalese Government imposes on climbers to reach the world’s highest peak.
Climbing mount Everest is no inexpensive task, permits alone cost $11,000 per climber and those traveling with a commercial guiding company can expect to pay between $25,000 (€22,947) and $75,000 (€68,842) depending on how much guidance, comfort and oxygen a climber needs. Nepal, a landlocked country on all sides, relies heavily on permit fees for its economic growth, it is the country’s main source of income. Yearly, it rakes in $4.5 million in permit fees.
Nepal, a landlocked country on all sides, relies heavily on permit fees for its economic growth, it is the country’s main source of income. Yearly, it rakes in $4.5 million in permit fees.
Davy wrote on his Facebook wall that he only skipped out on the permit fee because he had to pay “hidden fees” which left him with not enough money to pay for it. After all of his hard work and preparation, he felt it would be an “embarrassment” to give up just “because of a piece of paper.”
According to Davy, he used nearby terrain and mountain faces for acclimation training and planned on helping “anyone who might have been in trouble since every year there are so many fatalities. ”
Davy also wrote that even if he had had the money for the permit, he would have most likely been rejected, as permit regulations deem that climbers must have prior experience on 8,000 m. peaks prior to attempting a summit of Everest. New regulations threaten to make the current ones in place even more strict. Davy had no prior mountaineering experience on record.
Davy’s plan was to stealthily choose a Summit bid day and make an assault on the crowded mountain without anyone noticing him. However, he was caught.
Gyanendra Shresth, a government liaison officer at Everest Base Camp told Agence France-Presse, “I saw him alone near Base Camp so I approached him and he ran away. I followed him with my friend and found him hiding in a cave nearby. He had set up a camp in an isolated place to avoid government officials.”
Davy’s Facebook post described how he believed he was caught. He wrote, “Expedition companies have no time for wannabe Everesters so someone turned me in.”
His post also talked about his fear, “I was harassed at Base Camp to a point where I honestly thought I was going to get stoned to death right there. I’m not even exaggerating. I was treated like a murderer. A true testimony of how money has become more important than decency.
Davy’s story sounds familiar in the world of mountaineering. In 2013, when Ueli Steck was last on the mountain prior to his Everest2017 bid that cost him his life, he also ran into some terrifying trouble where he felt he was going to be lynched by a mob of Sherpas. According to Steck, the Sherpas had been upset that he and his team were defying their requests to stay below while they set fixed lines for other climbers who would need them on the route up. Steck, who would not be using them, felt it would be fine for him and his team to traverse up before they finished as they would not need them. This resulted in a heated brawl on Everest that was only calmed by a fellow climbing guide that diffused the situation and saved Steck’s life. Both Steck and the Sherpas later signed a treaty before departing the mountain.
The event was so traumatic, Steck was unsure if or when he’d return to Everest.
The crowded environment on the mountain has led to many disputes and hostile attitudes among the climbers and guides. This year, Nepal granted 371 permits; when combined with the Sherpa guides, that population grows to around 800. Lower down, at Base Camp, with the added staff and medical teams, the population totals are around 1,500 people. Coupled with this massive crowd is the haste in which climbers must reach the summit. There are usually 3 or 4 days where the weather clears enough for an assault on the summit, those days are nearing, with May 10th usually being a favorite. Having all those people climbing at once to reach the summit creates what is known as a “bottleneck” where traffic jams occur and the possibility of death is greater, with climbers spending more time in the Death Zone than is really recommended.
Every year bottlenecks account for many failed attempts and even death when climbers on the lower end of the line don’t reach the summit before their turnaround time window, which would allow them enough time to climb back down in the sunlight. This was the case during the devastating 1996 Everest Disaster that claimed the lives of 8 climbers.
Davy could face jail time for his attempt to climb Everest without a permit and a $22,000 fine. His passport was confiscated and in his Facebook post where he admitted his actions, it was unclear how he’d make it from Everest back to Kathmandu, although he did state having plans to walk and then take a bus. For now, it seems, he’s at the mercy of the mountain, it’s climbers and government officials.