The #Everest2023 season is starting to take shape, with guides establishing their base camp, and the Icefall Doctors are on their way to EBC. And a bit late, but once again, Nepal issues another silly rule for trekkers and climbers.
China will keep Everest closed to foreign climbers for the fourth year in a row, which is not suprising given the global tension between China, Russia, the EU and the US, COVID notwithstanding.
Two operators who are mainstays on the Tibet side are Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow and Lukas Furtenbach of Furtenbach Adventures. Ardian is somewhat unique in that he climbs on the Tibet side exclusively, feeling the Nepal side is mismanaged with too many inexperienced climbers and operators. He told me:
the [China] closure this spring remains due to tourist visas not yet being available to enter China. On Jan 8 they reinstated work and student visas. But we are still awaiting tourist visas. I expect those will come beginning this spring. And that will set stage for allowing expedition teams back in in autumn.
Lukas said he canceled his Tibet expedition for 2023 because it was getting too late to finalize plans, and he only heard silence from China. He will shift all of his clients to the Nepal side.
So we can expect a reasonably large number of people on the Nepal side. I’m estimating around 400 clients supported by 400-500 Sherpas spread across thirty teams. So doing the math, look for about 1,000 people living at Everest Base Camp at times between April 15 and May 31, the end of the season.
There will be climbing on the other Nepal 8000ers – Annapurna, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Lhotse, and Kanchenjunga. And we may see a few meaningful attempts to climb Cho Oyu from the Nepal side.
Silly Rules, Random Taxes
I hoped the Nepal Tourism officials would stop their annual habit of announcing new rules that are never enacted or enforced but not so fast, including banning solo Trekkers. The Nepal Tourism Board Director, director Maniraj Lamichhane , told the media, “This decision has been made for the tourists’ benefit, adding employment will go up significantly thanks to this decision. With this decision, the TIMS permit will no longer be issued to tourists without a guide. They will have to trek via a trekking company.” Oddly the same agency said around 50,000 tourists trekked without a guide or a porter in Nepal in 2019. This is the press release in English:
Now, we’ve seen this movie before; in fact, it’s one of the most popular faux announcements. All visitors must buy a Visa upon arrival ($50 for thirty days, $125 for ninety days), if not before, and trekkers have been required for several years to buy for about $7.00 a Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card. And yet another fee is the Trekking permit. In the Khumbu area, it costs $20 per week for the first four weeks and then $25 per week thereafter. By the way, there are additional taxes and fees charged by villages like Lukla and Namche, plus mysterious ones from hotels.
I’ve been tracking these rule announcements for almost ten years, and it’s fascinating to see repeats, but the common theme is virtually none are ever enacted or enforced due to the instability of the Nepal government and the removing door of Ministers who make and run the Ministry of Tourism. This eye chart shows the one announced, and often promoted by the mainstream press; however, virtually none of them were ever enforced. Click the chart to enlarge it
The Nepal government posted this rule for foreigners traveling to Nepal about Covid in 2023: “The Visa on arrival and no quarantine needed for those who have completed vaccination, those who have not been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated.”
Teams making their moves
International Mountain Guides gave an update on their Everest 2023 progress. They usually have a large team of 20 to 30 members with another 50 to 75 Sherpas in support. They use the same spot for their EBC each year, so all of their planning is rote these days. From IMG:
An Everest expedition starts long before the climbers and trekkers show up in Nepal, and our Sherpa team have now been working for several months on the preparations. In Kathmandu Ang Jangbu reports that they have now received our big initial food shipment. These items are now being repacked into loads and barrels. Next up will be sending this food along with other supplies and equipment by truck from Kathmandu east to Thaksindu (the end of the road). Then, it will all be airlifted by helicopter sling load to Shyangboche (above Namche). We’re rolling now!
Ang Jangbu and Phunuru report from Nepal that Sonam Dorje went to Everest Base Camp this past week and selected our IMG Base Camp site on the Khumbu Glacier. The Khumbu Glacier continues to move and churn continuously, so each year the camps need to be completely rebuilt from scratch. Anyone who has slept at EBC will recall the pops and snaps from the ice, especially if they wake you up at night! In the coming weeks, we’ll have our sherpa team up there to start building the tent platforms. It’s always amazing what a transformation it is from what looks like a gravel pit to a well-manicured campsite!
The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee released information on the Icefall Doctors
As the spring climbing season is approaching, our icefall doctors’ team left for Everest Base Camp today from our head office at Namche Bazaar. The team will fix and maintain the Khumbu Icefall Route for climbers attempting Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Nuptse in the spring 2023 climbing season. Prior to route construction, our icefall doctors will attend on-site training from instructors of Khumbu Climbing Center at Everest Base Camp from 2nd March to 6th March.The team includes Tshering Tenzing Sherpa (Base Camp Manager), eight icefall doctors (Ang Sarki Sherpa, Chhewang Nuru Sherpa, Dawa Jangbu Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Mingma Temba Sherpa, Pemba Tshering Sherpa, Sonam Tshering Sherpa, and Tenzing Dorjee Sherpa), two kitchen staff (Nawang Thaten Sherpa and Wangdi Gelbu Sherpa) and one garbage management staff (Sanjiv Tamang).
I use the Himalayan Database as my primary source of Everest summit statistics. If you are climbing in 2023, they are asking you to fill in an electronic web-based survey. This replaces the time-consuming process of visiting each team in their hotel before the climb. Please use this link to complete the survey. You can now download the HDB for free at their site.
I will post a few background articles and interviews between now and early April when the teams arrive at the base camps. If you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or drop me an email.
Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill.
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