UIAA regrets Mount Everest access decision by China
Statement by Mike Mortimer, President of UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation)
The UIAA regrets the recent decision by the government of China to close the north side of Mount Everest to mountaineering expeditions for several weeks during May of this year. This restriction will effectively curtail all expeditions attempting to climb the mountain during the spring of 2008. The only exception appears to be the Chinese expedition that aims to carry the Olympic Torch to the summit as part of the preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in August. In addition we must express our reservations about the restrictions placed on expeditions on the Nepalese side.
The UIAA is bringing its concerns to the attention of the appropriate authorities and is requesting that there shall be some reconsideration of these closure decisions, which will have a big impact on the many mountaineers hoping to attempt Mount Everest this year.
The UIAA recognises that there may be some security concerns with regard to the transportation of the torch along the approaches to Mount Everest and on the slopes of the mountain. Notwithstanding these concerns the UIAA hopes that a means may be found to maintain appropriate levels of security without preventing access to the mountain by mountaineers who are not involved in the torch expedition but have nevertheless successfully completed the expedition approval processes that are managed by the Chinese and Nepalese authorities and have paid the required fees.
The UIAA supports the efforts of the Chinese Mountaineering Association which is a member of the UIAA, to transport the Olympic Torch to Everest’s summit. This venture will attract worldwide publicity and is an unrivalled opportunity to project the value of the mountain environment as well as its attraction for human endeavour, enjoyment and companionship. Such a venture could not be more timely as people of all nations face the challenge of climate change, not least in the Himalayan mountain ranges, where the snowfields and glaciers provide essential water supplies to millions of people in the surrounding lowlands.
The UIAA cherishes the rights and freedoms for mountaineers to take access to the mountain environment in ways which are sensitive to that environment and to those who live and work in the surrounding areas. We applaud the vigorous efforts of the Chinese and Nepal governments in recent decades to help and support all those mountaineers who have come to tackle the slopes of Everest. The UIAA will continue to work, in friendly and respectful ways, with all who are involved in facilitating access to Mount Everest to ensure that acceptable access arrangements are maintained to this magnificent mountain range into the foreseeable future.
Berne, Switzerland 5 April 2008