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Summit Sojourn: China Reopens Route to Mount Everest for Foreign Mountaineers

Climbing Mount Everest through the Tibetan route (from the north), which is also popularly known as Qomolangma in China, will be accessible again for foreign climbers. 

The decision has been taken into consideration and authorised by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA), rather than a tourism official or a council in Beijing. This decision comes after a suspension of climbing activities in 2020 due to the pandemic and safety concerns.

Adrien Ballinger, a British-American certified mountain guide, who has already ascended Mount Everest eight times by now and owns Alpenglow Expeditions—a company, proffering international mountain guides, says that he prefers the Tibet route over the Nepal route (from the south).

As per Ballinger’s statement, people climbing Mount Everest this year can anticipate the Tibet route of Mount Everest being accessible once the CTMA issues a pricing schedule for the upcoming season. This schedule provides detailed costs, including charges for yak services for equipment transportation, assistance from local guides and translators, as well as transportation from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to Everest Base Camp.

Ballinger, himself, will be guiding the people climbing Mount Everest once again this year, and aims to reach by 25th April as the window for climbing Mount Everest is not too wide, and usually closes between late April and Mid of May.

Between 2000 and 2007, the Chinese route gained favour due to its perceived safety compared to the Nepali side, as noted by Ballinger. This trend, however, took a turn in 2008 during the Beijing Summer Olympics hosted by China. Despite the preparations done by people climbing Mount Everest, the route was unexpectedly closed for the entire season just a mere eight days before climbers were scheduled to arrive.

This closure resulted in substantial financial setbacks for many. Consequently, the focus of the business shifted towards the Nepali side, which has subsequently gained greater renown and attracted more visitors since then.

However, a twist of fate seems to be projected again. While the Nepali route to Mount Everest has garnered greater renown and captured more photographic attention, the surge in tourists has worsened environmental concerns there like littering, soil erosion, and pollution from human waste. 

Now, when access to Everest from Tibet resumes for foreign climbers, there’s a possibility that the overcrowding issue on the Nepali route could start to decline.

Foreign climbers seeking to conquer Mount Everest from the Chinese side will be required to obtain permits through registered expedition companies and adhere to strict guidelines set by the authorities. This includes mandatory health checks, environmental protection measures, and adherence to designated climbing routes.

The decision to allow foreign mountaineers to climb Mount Everest from China after years of break signals a positive step towards the resumption of mountain tourism in the region. With careful planning and adherence to environmental guidelines, climbers can once again embark on the ultimate adventure of scaling the world’s highest peak from the Tibetan side.

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