Disputes and Conflicts related to Mount Everest Climbing Expeditions
Summiting the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest, embodies the pinnacle of achievement in mountaineering. However, with escalating popularity and the thrill associated with the feat, Everest expeditions have also been fraught with numerous disputes and conflicts. These disputes range from environmental concerns, overcrowding, clashes between commercial expeditions and elite climbers, to inter-cultural disputes. This article explores some of these noteworthy disputes.
Environmental Concerns and Disputes
One of the pressing disputes at the Mount Everest surrounds its degradation due to increasing pollution. With mounting footfall each year, the volume of non-degradable waste left behind by climbers has raised environmental alarms. Efforts to address this issue have been disputed, with many accusing management authorities and the government of insufficient action. The introduction of various measures, like enforcing a rule which requires each climber to bring back their garbage, has been met with resistance from some climbers and expedition companies.
A surge in commercial mountaineering has led to dramatic overcrowding on Everest, sparking a considerable dispute. In the 2019 climbing season, the traffic jam of climbers in the ‘Death Zone’—an area above 8,000 meters where there is not enough oxygen for humans to breathe—resulted in 11 deaths, igniting a global uproar. Critics argue excessive permits are issued by the Nepalese government without adequate regulation, whereas authorities maintain that accidents are primarily due to unpreparedness and inexperience among climbers.
Commercial Expeditions Vs Elite Climbers
The rise of commercial expeditions, taking inexperienced climbers ready to pay hefty amounts, has resulted in a tussle between guided clients and elite, professional climbers. Traditional alpinists accuse these guided expeditions of overcrowding and lowering the nobility of the pursuit. Commercial operators, on the other hand, point out their significant contribution to the economies of Nepal and Tibet.
Mount Everest straddles the border between Nepal and Tibet—an aspect that has led to a history of geopolitical tensions and regulations governing the access to the summit from either side. In 2013, an internationally-publicized brawl erupted between three Western climbers and a group of Sherpas, throwing light on a complex and often unresolved issue of cultural clashes.
Disputes over the Ownership of Everest
Last but not least, there has been a long-standing dispute between Nepal and China over the actual height and ownership of Mount Everest. This dispute was only recently addressed at the end of 2020 when both countries agreed upon a new official height. Nevertheless, the mountain’s governance remains a contentious issue.
FAQS about Disputes and Conflicts on Mount Everest
Q1: Why is environmental degradation a dispute on Mount Everest?
A: Rapid commercialization has led to a significant rise in footfall on the mountain, consequently increasing the waste left behind by climbers. This has led to severe environmental degradation, making it a point of dispute with calls for stricter regulations and management.
Q2: What is the ‘Death Zone’ and how is it linked with overcrowding disputes on the mountain?
A: The ‘Death Zone’ refers to the region above 8,000 meters where there’s insufficient oxygen for human survival. It has been at the center of overcrowding disputes, as the traffic jam in this region during the 2019 climbing season led to numerous fatalities, thus igniting global criticism.
Q3: How are Commercial Expeditions adding to the conflicts in Everest expeditions?
A: Commercial expeditions, which often take inexperienced climbers to Everest, have been accused by professional and seasoned climbers for causing overcrowding, increasing danger, and diminishing the essence of the endeavor.
Q4: Can you elaborate on the inter-cultural disputes related to Everest expeditions?
A: Everest expeditions have often been a theater for inter-cultural disputes, particularly between Western climbers and Sherpas. These often revolve around disagreements on climbing ethics, risks, and the style of ascent.
Q5: What is the dispute between Nepal and China regarding Mount Everest?
A: The dispute between Nepal and China primarily relates to the actual height and sovereignty over Mount Everest. It was partially resolved in 2020 when the countries agreed upon a new height, though the mountain’s governance continues to be contested.