Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Blind Climber Banned From Everest Weighs in On New Regulations

A lot has been made of the new regulations put in place by the Nepali government for climbers heading to Mt. Everest. As you may recall, last month the Council of Ministers there voted to ban solo climbs, double amputees, and blind mountaineers from the mountain. But one climber impacted by the new regulations isn't giving up on his dream to climb Everest a second time, even though he now banned from making such an attempt from Nepal.

Australian climber Andy Holzer, who became just the second blind person to summit Everest last year, has weighed in on the new regulations and isn't very happy about them. He is quick to point out that statistically speaking, few disabled climbers have died on Everest and that these rules are being put in place to address a problem that doesn't exist. He also feels, as many of us do, that some of the new policies are about money. Holzer says that solo climbers were likely banned for instance because they don't put much cash into Nepal's coffers, climbing independently and without support. The new rules also require all climbers on the South Side to have a guide with them at all times, which would employ more locals while bringing larger crowds to Everest too.

While Holzer made his climb in 2017 from the North Side of the mountain in Tibet, he still holds a permit to climb from the South Side that is good through 2019. He had hoped to return to the Himalaya and make an ascent from the Nepal side of Everest as well. Now, that looks like it could be out of the question, although he believes that the North Side will remain open to such possibilities, sending more climbers that direction.

The Aussie mountaineer, who has reached the top of all of the 7 Summits, initially attempted Everest back in 2014. That season was cut short after a serac collapsed above Base Camp, claiming the lives of 16 porters. Later, Nepal announced that they would honor the permits for an additional 5 years, allowing Holzer to return if he wanted to give it another go. Instead, he chose to travel to the North Side for his climb last year. In the interview he says that feels the Chinese side of the mountain is a more challenging climb, but doesn't have the dangers that come with the Khumbu Icefall, which is why he went there.

Andy hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning next year to climb from the South Side however, and says that he has contacted his agency in Kathmandu to find out if his permit is still valid. Whether or not Nepali officials will still allow him to climb remains to be seen.

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