In what would be celebrated by most countries for skill and an attraction to others, Willie Benegas and Matt Moniz skied down the Lhotse Face this weekend. They proudly posted their accomplishment on Facebook and now, instead of being lauded by the Nepal Ministry, they are being attacked for not following silly and secret rules.
The Himalayan Times, parroting that the Ministry, reported that according to Ram Prasad Sapkota, director at the DoT, that after receiving the information from Everest base camp “The duo only obtained Everest climbing permit and their ski attempt was illegal. Climbers shall pay US$1,000 as royalty to obtain ski permit while the ski team must have a liaison officer to monitor their activities in the mountains and the ski team also needs to deposit US$500 as garbage management fee at the DoT.”
I contacted Matt and he said, “Willie and I have permits for both Everest and Lhotse, unfortunately we were completely unaware of the ski permit requirement, and of course have made arrangements to pay for the permit and comply with the regulations. We certainly respect Nepal’s mountaineering rules and regulations and believe we were in compliance.”
Of note, the word “ski” does not appear in the Mountaineering Expedition Rules, 2059(2002) posted on the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Department of Tourism official website.
Skiing down the Lhotse Face is not new. It all started in 1970 with Japanese speed skier Yuichiro Miura then in 2006 Kit DesLauriers, Rob DesLauriers and Jimmy Chin also skied the Face and in 2011 Chris Davenport did it. I seriously doubt any of these skiers got the special, secret “ski permit”.
It appears to be resolved so Matt and Willie can go on to summit Everest and Lhotse.
Memories are Everything