China also opened access to Mount Everest for tourists

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For the first time since the outbreak, China is allowing foreign climbers to enter Mount Everest through Tibet.

Adrian Ballinger, who has met Everest eight times, is one of the western guides who prefer the Tibetan route to the top of the highest mountain in the world (from the north), as opposed to the well-known Nepal route (from the south). This year, he will lead a group of climbers through his company, Alpenglow Expeditions.

Instead of a tourism manager or council in Beijing, all passes through the Chinese route to climb the mountain are shared by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA).

There is also no official announcement by the Chinese government informing the public that licenses will be issued.

As a result, says Ballinger, the best way for a non-Chinese person to know when the Tibet side of Everest will be open is when the CTMA sends out a list of prices for the season. This list includes the cost of yaks (which carry the equipment up and down the mountain), guides, translators and transport from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to Everest Base Camp.

Visitors who obtain visas to China must obtain an additional, separate visa for Tibet, which is an independent region. CTMA facilitates this for passengers.

There are over 300 permits available annually for non-Chinese passengers.

The window to climb Everest is small – usually from late April to mid-May. Ballinger’s team will arrive in China on April 25 after settling at home to save time.

Race to the top of the world

Although Nepal has a well-known and well-photographed route to the summit of Everest, more and more tourists come into contact with the vast amount of waste, erosion and human waste.

However, this was not always the case.

“Climbing from the Chinese side was more popular than climbing from the Nepalese side. So from around 2000 to 2007, the Chinese side was very popular, and many people knew that the reason it was popular was because it was safe,” explains Ballinger.

So what changed?

In 2008, China participated in the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Before reaching the capital, the Olympic Flame went to Everest, although there were already groups of tourists ready to tackle the highest peaks in the world.

“Eight days before we got to the mountain in 2008, they closed the mountain for the season, and a lot of people lost a lot of money,” Ballinger says. “And because of this decision, the business shifted to Nepali that year.”

Now, with foreign climbers able to access Everest via the northern route through Tibet for the first time since 2020, this may change slowly.

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