NZ Everest expedition now expected to get go ahead
Media release – March 24, 2008
NZ expedition now expected to be given the go ahead – top Kiwi leader unsure of terms and restrictions for Everest expedition
Top New Zealand expedition leader Guy Cotter today confirmed from Kathmandu tonight that Nepal is likely to issue permits for expeditions to summit Everest in May – but tight conditions and restrictions as a result of the Beijing Olympic Games torch run are expected.
Cotter said it had been indicated that the permits would be issued for Everest this year but they are still unclear of the final wording of the permits and the unusual conditions due to the Chinese Olympic torch run on the Tibetan side of the mountain.
The various groups who may be affected by the wording of the permits (Nepalese Mountaineering Association, Trekking Agencies association of Nepal and the expedition teams) still have some trepidation as to the final outcome, Cotter said tonight.
``It seems the Nepalese authorities are delaying their final decision on how they will address the issue of the permits as long as possible. We understand that Cabinet must now countersign the document before final permits are issued which is an indication of how this issue is being regarded as a hot potato by the authorities.
``All of our guiding staff have arrived into Nepal and we will be very pleased to get going on the expedition and leave the politics behind in Kathmandu.
``Our clients arrive this week and we will be beginning the expedition in earnest on March 30 with the intention of our group reaching the summit towards the end of May.
```The conditions that the Nepalese government are reported to be applying to the expeditions will keep everybody off the upper mountain between May 1-10 and this will disrupt our climbing plans to a degree and potentially lead to our summit climb being achieved right at the end of May rather than around May 20 as we normally do.’’
Cotter is scheduled to lead one of 32 expeditions and the only NZ expedition to the summit of Everest this year.
He has reached the Everest summit four times already and has become of one of New Zealand’s greatest expedition organisers.
He has played a lead role in urging China and Nepal to reach a resolution to the issue fuelled by the Beijing Olympics torch run.
Cotter flew to Nepal last week for his latest expedition. He organises mountaineering expeditions to Mt Everest through a Wanaka company Adventure Consultants which he took over after the Everest death of Rob Hall, the original founder, in 1996.
The Sherpa climbing community has been in a state of shock after the stalling of the annual expeditions to Tibet and the 'non opening' of expedition peaks within Nepal.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of climbing Sherpas would have lost their annual income they derive from their intense but relatively highly paid efforts on Mt Everest, Cotter said.
The support industries that have been built around expeditions will also be left penniless if the politicians in Kathmandu stay sitting on their hands except to take time to deny to the world that they have placed bans on expeditions this season.
This is the first time since Nepal opened its borders to foreigners in 1951 that climbing Mt Everest has been disrupted.
New Zealand has had a close association with Nepalese authorities and the Sherpas since the late Sir Ed Hillary became the first person to reach the Everest summit in May 1953.