It's been a gonzo couple of weeks up on the world's highest peak, with reports of China closing their northern routes to Everest until May 10 and Nepal supposedly agreeing to cooperate with Big Red by restricting access to the summit from May1-10. For expectant expedition teams waiting in limbo with baited breath, it might feel a bit like the rigorous, high-altitude acclimation process they all hoped to go through. Or maybe it's more like cerebral edema.
Now comes an update, sort of: Amidst confirmed reports of outfitters canceling trips up Everest, some Nepalese tourism officials have backed away from proclaiming the southern route closed, calling the previous cancellation decision a "baseless rumour." Prem Rai, spokesman for Nepal's culture, tourism and civil aviation ministry, reportedly told the newspaper Rising Nepal that "the government has not received any kind of request from the Chinese government" regarding an Everest ban.
Additionally, Prachanda Man Shrestha, chief executive officer at Nepal Tourism Board, called the ban a "misconception" and said "to prevent overcrowding on the summit, we are coordinating with the expeditions from the Nepal side so that the final attempts to reach the top are made after that, [May 10]."
Wha? Most of these recent unconfirmed comments from Nepali officials seem to only muddy the water, but I suppose they provide a few rays of hope for Everest climbers still hoping to make a summit bid. But it seems that this year, the only way to ensure a summit attempt is to a) be from China, and b) carry an Olympic torch.
Official announcements are expected in the coming days, so keep checking The Daily Dirt for updates. — Ted Alvarez