Brice: „Of course I will return this year“
In spring 2012 Russell Brice put the brakes on. The probably most experienced operator of commercial expeditions to Mount Everest cancelled his expedition, because he considered the conditions in the Khumbu icefall and on the Lhotse face as too hazardous. „The danger is certainly past my parameters“, Brice said. Russell has been leading expeditions to the Himalayas since 1974. For this spring his agency Himalayan Experience offers Everest South Side again. I asked the 60 years old New Zealander per email:
„Russell, last year you cancelled your Everest expedition due to dangerous conditions and crowds of climbers in the route. Most likely this won’t change this season. But for all that, what has motivated you to come back?
I cancelled because of dangerous conditions, and not because of crowding. Crowding we as operators can deal with between ourselves. I disagree, I do not expect the conditions to be as bad as last year again this year. I feel that last year was a very special year because of the lack of snow and the stone fall.
I have clients who still want to climb Everest and they still want to go with a safe operator, so of course I will return this year. I also have a responsibility to establish work for the local people of Nepal.
Do you think it’s possible to minimalize the risks to a responsible level?
Climbing Everest or for that matter any mountain in the world involves risk. How to manage this is important, we cannot change the environment, but we can change how we react as climbers.
For many years you offered expeditions from the Tibetan side of Mount Everest. Were you tempted to return to the north side after your experiences on the south side in 2012?
No, not really, the political environment on the Tibet side is not so stable either. I would prefer to deal with the natural circumstances rather than the political ones.
After ten people died on Everest in spring 2012, prominent climbers demanded to limit the number of climbers, for example by requiring another 8000-m-peak-climb before someone can get a permit for Everest. What do think of these proposals?
Yes, we have been promoting these ideas to the authorities for many years, not just after last year. But it is one thing to propose such things and another for the authorities to listen and change rules.“
Date1. February 2013 | 16:30