The ending of my fourth attempt to climb Mount Everest didn’t end anyway near what I had foreseen.
Due to the disastrous earthquake of April 2015 I wasn’t allowed to even reach North Col this season. In a way it’s my worst attempt on Everest ever, but in other ways I felt that I was very well prepared and would have a very good chance on the summit.
I didn’t feel the altitude in any way at any time and that is unusual. I climbed faster at altitude than I have ever done. I had full confidence in my ability to reach my goal, of course given the right conditions on the mountain.
The only problem was the Chinese closure of the mountain, and for what reason?
Officially the mountain was closed due to the risk of further earthquakes.
I’m a geologist and I know that after a large earthquake there will be a lot of aftershocks but most likely no large. The size of aftershocks were already diminishing markedly and there was no reason to assume a large earthquake would hit again. 80 years have passed since the last huge earthquake in this region, in all probability that is the period between major earthquakes. Thus, closure without a reason.
Another reason given for the closure was, that a large crevasse had opened on the North Col.
Well, mountaineers are used to cross crevasses, it is part of everyday life in the mountains. If climbers are not used to this, they should not find themselves on the way up Everest. It is not the crevasses that pose a problem it is the audience allowed onto the mountain. Closing Everest on this reason makes no sense.
It is therefore with large regret that I find myself heading home, forced by the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA).
Were transferred to Lhasa as the roads through Nepal are not passable due to the huge impact of the earthquake on the fragile infrastructure. But costs like visa to pass to Lhasa and out of the country, flight from Lhasa etc ate not covered. We are denied the right to climb what we have payed for, and we are inferred further costs.
The only thing that CMA is “returning” is the climbing permit. We do NOT receive the money back, but they extend the validity of the permit to 3 years. You still have to pay logistics, travel costs etc. for a new expedition on top of that. The deal will always be in favour of CMA not the individual climber.
It is by no means a fair deal, as you force further costs onto the climbers especially if the want to exploit the opportunity to come back and attempt another year.
CMA should return all fees paid and let climbers decide if and when they want to come back to the North Side of Everest – some might opt for the Nepalese side and they should have their money back from CMA so they are free to do so.