Earlier in the month, there was news regarding the closure of borders between Tibet and Nepal. The closure was due to an incident with a climber who illegally crossed between the two countries to climb and descend Mount Everest during the Everest2017 spring season. Prior to this, we also reported that another climber, Ryan Sean Davy, had been detained for attempting to climb the world’s highest mountain without a permit.
These two incidents have thrown the legal aspects of climbing to the forefront of discussion. Mountaineering is a sport unlike any other. It requires a great deal of financial backing and legal preparation before even setting foot in the Base Camp of any mountain. This is especially true for Mount Everest, as Nepal’s economy is largely dependent on the fees for treks and permits it charges to foreigners.
In the case of Tibet, it has decided to close its borders to climbers as a result of the actions of one man, Polish climber Janusz Adamski. In May, Adamski ascended the Tibetan North Side of Everest and successfully reached the summit. He then proceeded to descend the mountain from the Nepalese South Side.
Adamski did not have a permit from Nepal to complete this traverse and was in violation of immigration laws between the two countries. As a result, Tibet issued a statement specifically naming Adamski as the reason for the border closure and cited that more regulations needed to be cemented between Nepal and Tibet before it can consider reopening the border for climbing.
Previously, it had been announced that no permits would be given to climbers attempting to make a summit attempt from the Tibetan side, with the exception of 50 climbing permits that would be issued for Cho Oyu. However, that is no longer the case. Tibet has closed all borders and has refused to issue climbing permits at least until 2018.
Adamski was given a light sentence. His $22,000 fine was waived and he was given a 10-year ban on climbing in Nepal. This came after Adamski posted a photo on social media of him posing at the summit with a Tibetan flag, a photo of himself and one of the Dalai Lama.
China sees the placing of Tibetan flags and images of the Dalai Lama on the summit as “malicious activities.”
Initially, Adamski was not given a 10-year ban, but only a 1-year ban. In his defense statement, Adamski cited fearing for his life as the reason he descended the South Side, stating that he reached the summit in a weak state and felt he could not make the traverse down on the North Side.
However, his social media post stated that a traverse from the North Side to the South Side was a lifelong dream of his, and his actions were intentional. Adamski is the first Pole to traverse this route and the fifteenth person to do so.
Also in May, South African Climber Ryan Sean Davy was detained and kicked off of Mount Everest after having been found hiding on the mountain in a cave attempting to scale the South Side without a permit.
Davy stated in a Facebook post that he had full intentions of getting a permit for the climb. But after reaching Nepal and paying for additional fees required by the Nepalese Government, he ran out of money and could not pay for the actual climbing permit. Instead of turning around, Davy decided to attempt to climb the mountain anyway.
He was approached by a liaison officer near Everest Base Camp where he was asked for his permit, Davy then ran. He was found shortly after hiding in a cave where he was detained. His passport was confiscated, and he was kicked off of the mountain and told to trek back to Kathmandu and report to the Department of Tourism. There, he was held for 7 days.
Through the help of the South African Consulate, Davy was released on 04 June and given free passage to the US. However, he was banned from climbing in Nepal for 10 years. His fine of $22,000 was also waived.
While Davy’s actions did not affect other climbers, Adamski’s did. Anyone who planned on an autumn expedition to Tibet for a climb will have to wait until 2018. Permits that were already issued are now in “revoked” status. This is a huge ordeal for climbers who pay in excess of $65,000 for a commercial expedition on Everest.