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China closes Everest on Tibet side to climbing expeditions

March 13, 2008

ICT report, March 11, 2008

The Chinese authorities have announced that the north side of Mt
Chomolungma (Everest), which is in Tibet, will be closed to
expeditions, and according to another reliable source, no group visas
to enter will be issued until May 10, according to a news item posted
on an adventure web portal, www.mounteverest.net. The decision
indicates that control of the route of the Olympic torch, which will
be relayed from Lhasa to Mt Chomolungma, is of the highest priority to
Beijing. The adventure and expedition website described the decision
as a 'serious blow' to mountaineers and related personnel. It had
previously been denied that China would limit the number of
expeditions in 2008, which had been reported last year by ICT.

According to the same report, Chinese authorities had attempted to
persuade the Nepalese mountaineering authorities to close the icefall
on the south side of Everest this spring until May 10, and to try not
to have summits during the period. Nepal has reportedly rejected this
request, which is likely to be on the basis of substantial revenues
that are received from major climbing expedtions.

John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said
today: "This is an ominous indication of the controls that China is
likely to impose as the flame travels from the top of Everest through
Tibet. Beijing is using the Olympics torch ceremony, which should
stand for human freedoms and dignity, to bolster its territorial claim
over Tibet."

According to the same report, Cho Oyu will also be closed to climbers.
An incident in September 2006 when international climbers witnessed
the killing of a 17-year old Tibetan nun, Kelsang Namtso, by Chinese
troops close to the Nepalese border, may have contributed to the
Chinese authorities' decision to close Mt Chomolungma to expeditions.
Western mountaineers at advance base camp on Mt Cho Oyu witnessed the
September 30 shooting on the Nangpa Pass, which is one of the escape
routes into exile used by Tibetans to enter Nepal, and a Romanian
cameraman later provided footage of the incident that discredited the
Chinese authorities? claim that they had shot at the Tibetan refugees
"in self-defence".

The web portal, www.mounteverest.net, included an image of the letter
sent yesterday (March 10) by the China Tibet Mountaineering
Association to Everest north side expedition leaders.

The web portal commented: "Considering the need for acclimatization
and infrastructure, climbing Everest north side this spring will be
short of impossible. This is a serious blow to Everest climbers and
related personnel, many of whom got the notice only one week before
their Everest approach is due to begin." Following a meeting with the
China Tibet Mountaineering Association last year, the President of the
Nepal Mountaineering Association, Ang Tshering Sherpa, assured
climbers that: "Rumors circulating in our national and international
media that Mt.Everest will be closed to climb from the Tibet side are
false. China will also not limit the number of expeditions in 2008."

www.mounteverest.net reported that in many cases, permit, porter,
staff and infrastructure fees have already been paid. "Those who can
afford it, choose to reroute to Everest south side - putting a
dangerous strain on this side of the peak, with close to 70 permits
reportedly issued there already this season," stated the well-known
expedition website.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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