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Dominik Mueller: “There will be more climbers on Everest”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

It could be a record season on Mount Everest. After the successful 2016 season, experts are expecting a run on the highest mountain on earth – especially since many climbers want to use their extended permits from 2014 (valid until 2019) and from 2015 (which will run out this year). In 2014, the season in Nepal had been finished prematurely after an avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths. In 2015, there had been no ascents on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, will set off to Everest with a “small but strong team” on 8 April. Three clients, four Climbing Sherpas and he himself will try to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit via the normal route on the Tibetan north side. “I will use bottled oxygen because I believe that I can only support other people as best as possible when using a breathing mask,” says the 46-year-old. “Anyone who climbs Everest without supplemental oxygen is so preoccupied with himself that he probably has no resources left to look after others.” I talked to him about the upcoming season.

Dominik, with what expectations do you set off to the Himalayas?

Date

18. March 2017 | 15:44

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Dawa Steven Sherpa: “There is a lot of pressure”

Dawa Steven Sherpa

Dawa Steven Sherpa

A 15-meter-high climbing wall in the middle of the tourist quarter Thamel in Kathmandu – who would have thought it? “The wall is the nursery for the sport of climbing in Nepal”, Dawa Steven Sherpa tells me. “All of the young ambitious Sherpa climbers have trained here.” I meet the 32-year-old in the office of “Asian Trekking”. Along with his father Ang Tshering Sherpa, Dawa Steven is managing the leading Nepalese expedition operator. I talk with him about this spring season on Everest – after the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall in 2014 that killed 16 Nepalese climberes and the earthquake in 2015, that triggered an avalanche from the 7000er Pumori that hit Everest Base Camp killing 19 climbers.

Dawa Steven, Asian Trekking once again offers an Eco Everest Expedition this spring. Will it take place?

Yes, it will start from Kathmandu on 6 April. So far we have 14 foreign members and 21 Sherpas but this number will change by the end of the month.

Do you notice that there is a lower demand this year?

Date

29. March 2016 | 16:21

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Mingma Sherpa: “In the end price matters”

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

Dangerous Khumbu Icefall

The upcoming spring season on Everest casts its shadows before. Ten “Icefall doctors” were sent to the Base Camp on the Nepalese side of the highest mountain on earth to prepare the route for the commercial expeditions. In the past two years, there had been no summit successes from the south (I deliberately ignore the “success” of Chinese climber Wang Jing and her Sherpa-Team in 2014 who had been flown to Camp 2 by helicopter). In 2014, the spring season had prematurely ended after an ice avalanche in Khumbu Icefall had killed 16 Nepalese climbers. In 2015, the 25 April earthquake had triggered a huge avalanche from Pumori that had hit Everest Base Camp and killed 19 people.

On Monday, the Nepalese cabinet – at last! – gave green light for the extension of the 2015 climbing permits by two years. “It is a welcome move from the government that we hope will help bring back the climbers to the mountains”, said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. But it might be too late for many of the about 800 climbers who got a 2015 permit, including 357 Everest aspirants, to return already this spring.

I asked Mingma Gyalje Sherpa about the upcoming season. The 29-year-old, who has already climbed seven eight-thousanders and recently made headlines by solo climbing the difficult West Face of 6685-meter-high Chobutse for the first time, is head of the Kathmandu based expedition and trekking operator Dreamers Destination.

Mingma, the spring season is around the corner. What do you expect, especially on Mount Everest?

Date

1. March 2016 | 17:40

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Brice: “Easy to make statements and then do nothing”

Russell Brice

Russell Brice

He is the doyen of the western expedition operators. The New Zealander Russell Brice has been leading expeditions to the Himalayas since 1974. Hardly any of his colleagues has so much experience as the 63-year-old head of Himalayan Experience, not only in organizing trips to the eight-thousanders but also in dealing with the authorities. It is something that has almost been forgotten, that Russell at an earlier age was an excellent high altitude climber – and an Everest pioneer: Along with the Briton Harry Taylor he first climbed the Three Pinnacles on the Northeast Ridge in 1988.
I wanted to know what Brice thinks about the current situation in Nepal:

Russ, for this spring Himalayan Experience is offering expeditions in Nepal to Mount Everest and Lhotse. How great is the demand?

Very small numbers compared to past years.

Do you notice an impact of the events in 2014 (avalanche in Khumbu Icefall) and 2015 (earthquake and avalanche that hit Everest BC) on your client’s attitude?

Date

18. January 2016 | 12:43

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If savings are made at the wrong end

Pilots in continous operation

Expensive rescue

“I am not in the government to wait and see”, Ananda Prasad Pokharel said in early November after his appointment as the new Nepalese Tourism Minister. “I am here to change.” However, one of his first initiatives concerning mountain tourism doesn’t testify his farsightedness but looks more like a crazy idea. Pokharel’s ministry plans to reduce the insurances for Nepalese staff on expeditions – by up to 60 percent on mountains that are lower than 6,500 meters. Thus mountain tourism should be stimulated again, it said. The visitor numbers in Nepal had slumped dramatically after the devastating earthquake in April and also because of the still existing blockade of the border with India.
Even many Nepalis shake their heads about the government’s plan. “As an owner of the agency Dreamers Destination Trek, I prefer reduction in every kind of insurance. It is good for my company and it is good for my clients”, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa writes to me. “But being myself a climber and born in a climber’s family, I wish an increment of insurances in favor of climbers.”

Date

19. December 2015 | 23:07

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Stricter rules for Everest permits?

Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa

Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa

The Nepalese government apparently wants to make sure that Mount Everest is taken seriously again. Speaking at an event in Kathmandu on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on Sunday, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa said that new age limits and other more stringent conditions on granting permits for Everest expeditions were in preparation. It is considered to allow only climbers aged between 18 and 75 to climb the highest mountain on earth.

Date

28. September 2015 | 16:19

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No fall expeditions to Tibet

On Cho Oyu (8,188 m) in Tibet

On Cho Oyu (8,188 m) in Tibet

China is closing Tibet for climbers for the rest of this year. “That is correct”, Dawa Steven Sherpa from the Nepalese expedition operator Asian Trekking confirms to me by email. “The Chinese authorities have decided not to issue permits for climbing in the autumn season in fear of further seismic activity telling that the mountains may be in a dangerous condition. They will issue climbing permits from 2016.” Furthermore, says Dawa Steven, the road that connects Nepal and Tibet, is still closed as it is under repair after the earthquake. “That means that equipment and logistics for the expeditions would not be possible to be transported via Nepal.”

Date

4. August 2015 | 16:34

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Everest permits here and there

Nepalese south side of Mount Everest

Nepalese south side of Mount Everest

The Base Camps on both sides of Mount Everest have got empty eleven days after the devastating earthquake in Nepal. The climbers are on their way back. What about their permits, after they could not even make a single attempt to climb the highest mountain on earth? In Nepal, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) has requested the government to extend this year’s permits until 2016.

Date

6. May 2015 | 15:50

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Brice: “Detrimental to Nepalese tourism”

Russell Brice

Russell Brice

The decision of the Nepalese Government to extend last year’s Everest permits until 2019 came late, very late. “The Everest season starts in a few days, my staff are already on their way to Base Camp, so our planning has been going on for months”, Russell Brice, head of the New Zealand expedition operator Himalayan Experience, writes to me. “Food, oxygen and equipment are already in the Khumbu and members will be arriving in Kathmandu as from Monday next week.” He has some members that were at Everest last year coming back this year, says Russ. There is no sign of euphoria in his words about the decision to prolong the permits.

Date

21. March 2015 | 17:10

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Less expeditions, less money

Economic factor Mount Everest

Economic factor Mount Everest

Nepal sees his mountain luck run out. “The government must frame policies to gain a competitive edge”, a report by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said which was quoted in the “Himalayan Times”. The neighbouring countries had started aggressive campaigns to attract more climbers. India had offered a discount of 50 per cent on climbing fees, Pakistan had waived off royalties for all peaks below 6500 meters, the report said. Nepal is charging fees for mountains which are much lower, e.g. for 5500-meter-high Chhukung Ri, a popular trekking peak in the Khumbu region.

Date

30. January 2014 | 17:17

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