On Friday, March 14, Nepal's Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation announced that all climbers on Everest's Nepal side will not be allowed to climb above Base Camp at 17,500' from May 1 through May 10. It is not clear if climbers will be allowed to go above BC prior to May 1.
While there was no mention of the limitations being related to the Chinese's more stringent limitations on the North, the connection is obvious.
This now makes a complicated situation even more complex. North side teams, including ours, have been investigating alternatives given the Chinese March 10th decision to refuse entry to all expeditions on Everest until May 10th - presumably after they carry the Olympic torch to the summit, weather permitting.
This morning there are reports from the BBC and others of severe violence in Lhasa including fires, protests and strong police and army presence. The Sera Monastery is reported to be surrounded by 2,000 policemen to keep the several hundred Monks from leaving.
I visited the Monastery last year on our Shisha Pangma climb. I found it to be a very active place full of life and excitement. Each Wednesday, they debate one another on Buddhists teachings in a tree-filled courtyard. I have a video of it on the side bar. The public can catch the debates - it was quite entertaining.
One of the multiple impacts on these political decisions are on the Sherpa and Tibetan people. They depend on tourism and mountaineering for a significant portion of their income each year. This income feeds their families, funds their children's education and is re-invested into their regions for teahouses, shops and restaurants. It is vital for their growth.
While myself and other climbers are anxious about our opportunity to climb Mt. Everest, the Tibetans and Sherpas are fearful for their future. A sense of perspective is important at times like this.
I remain optimistic that a compromise will be reached on both climbing routes that will allow the Chinese to accomplish their goal, the Tibetans and Sherpas to have work and for climbers to climb.