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Situation dire in kathmandu: NZ Everest leader

Media release – March 20, 2008

NZ expedition leader calls international community to stop Chinese pressure from allowing Nepal to open Everest to climbers


Top New Zealand expedition leader Guy Cotter today pleaded on the international community not to allow China to use their Olympic torch plans to pressure Nepal and their Sherpa.

Cotter is scheduled to lead one of 32 expeditions to the summit of Everest this year and his is the only New Zealand-led expedition.

Cotter said the situation for the Nepalese and the expeditions had become dire.

``I urge the international community to collectively encourage China and Nepal to offer an immediate resolution to the issue and to recognise that a lot more than a few crampons scratching the summit of Mt Everest is at stake here,’’ he said from Kathmandu today.

``I have appealed to the NZ Government to step into the Chinese-Nepalese closure of Mt Everest.’’

Cotter flew to Nepal this 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.

``Our situation here is becoming desperate as we are about to receive all the clients for our expedition that cannot start until permits are issued.

``The Nepalese Ministry of Tourism said today there is no closure on Everest which is totally incorrect because they are not issuing permits for Everest.

``The responsibility for delaying the decision has been passed on to the secretary (for the ministry) so the minister does not have to be held responsible for not opening the mountain and issuing permits for Everest.

``Our representatives along with the other major agencies in Kathmandu including the Nepalese Mountaineering Association, the Nepalese Association of Tourism operators, and agency representatives of the expeditions themselves, have been in meetings for five hours today with the secretary of the Ministry of Tourism who was not able to provide a signature on a paper.’’

The Sherpa climbing community is already in a state of shock after the 11th hour closure of expeditions to Tibet and the 'non opening' of expedition peaks within Nepal will only exacerbate the issue.

Hundreds, if not thousands of climbing Sherpas will lose 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.

``The fault lies firstly with China for placing such pressure on Nepal so it can have a well publicised spectacle on Everest with the Olympic torch carrying procession.

``But this situation shows that for the two seconds of television coverage they are prepared to allow many people to lose their livelihood.’’

This is the first time since Nepal opened its borders to foreigners in 1951 that climbing Mt Everest has been closed.


ENDS

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