On June 7, 2017, the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association closed the Tibetan side of Everest.
Their reasons for doing so? One man’s illegal descent.
The man, Janusz Adam Adamski climbed Everest on the Nepalese side. Then he descended — sans permit — down the Tibetan side, which is (controversially) part of China. That was enough to compel the People's Republic to issue a 10-year-ban on the Polish climber.
But they didn't stop there.
The Chinese goverment has now announced that access to the North Side of the mountain will be closed to all foreign climbers this fall. They typically issue 50 permits during this period. Professional climber Alan Arnette posits that this action had political motivations: to keep climbers out of the region, where they can interact and sympathize with the disenfranchised Tibetans.
What does this mean for mountaineers? Not much, really. Fifty permits isn’t going to affect the pressure on the Nepalese side too much. As Frank Castro, whose used to lead guided Everest trips for Adventure International, told us, “Most folks are interested in doing the Nepalese side anyway.” That’s because the early expedition history is there, which is an integral part of the experience for most visitors.
“Most of the summit hoppers and folks doing the greatest treks want to do the Nepalese side,” says Castro. “We considered the Tibet side to be a novelty.”
Still, it seems a shame that the selfish decision of one man would affect so many people.