We all knew it was coming. As previously reported, the summit by 13 year-old Jordan Romero from the Tibet side of Everest created shock waves throughout the mountaineering community … and authorities.
Joining Nepal’s minimum age limit (16 from Nepal) to climb Everest, the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) who manages mountaineering in Tibet, was quoted immediately after Romero’s summit in a report
… climbers applying for a permit to attempt the 8848m peak – and any other Himalayan ranges from the north or Tibet — would have to be at least 18. The Chinese authorities have imposed an upper age limit as well – 60 …
However, Sherpa Pemba Dorje reacting to Romero’s summit immediately announced that he wanted to find a younger climber to summit in 2011 saying that all Everest records should belong to Nepalese
“Nepal is a small country and we do not get much good publicity. I want to take an 11- or 12-year-old to the summit because I think all the Everest records should be held by Nepalese people.”
He was quoted as saying they would climb from Nepal and the tourism ministry had agreed to make an exception to their 16 year-old minimum age for a Nepalese child seeking to break the American’s record.
OK, fast forward to today and Pemba Dorje has found his climber – his own son; third grader Tseten Sherpa who is 9 years old. Together they just took a training climb on Mt Ramdung (5,925 meters/19,438 feet).
But not so fast. The Hindustan Times is reporting that the Nepalese Government will not issue them a permit and if they do climb, illegally, they will not recognize the summit.
According to the article, Nepal’s mountaineering officials clearly state:
“Tseten lives in Dolakha and therefore may climb a local mountain under the care of his father,” said Nima Norbu Sherpa, acting president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) that promotes mountaineering in Nepal.
“However, the current government regulations in both Nepal and Tibet indicate that he will not be issued a permit to climb Mt. Everest. Even if he does it, the feat will not be given official recognition as long as these age limits remain in place.”
And taking the issue further was Ang Tsering Sherpa, immediate past president of the NMA, who according to the article said climbing the Everest without a government permit was a punishable offense.
“The permit fee is about $70,000,” he said. “The fine will be double that. And the inability to pay the fine could result in imprisonment.”
I guess the good news is now that there is 3G cell phone service on Everest, the young climber can video chat with his friends while waiting for a permit!
We will see what 2011 bring but as usual, Everest bring controversy from all ages.
Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. He is climbing the 7 Summits starting with Mt. Vinson in November 2010 to raise $1 million for Alzheimer's research. You can read more on his site.