Eiger conqueror Sir Ranulph Fiennes’s bid to summit Everest is in jeopardy after Nepalese authorities acceded to Chinese demands to close the south side of the mountain.
Amid rising turmoil over China’s occupation of Tibet in the run-up to the Olympic Games, Beijing last week banned climbers from the northern face and asked the regime in Kathmandu to do the same. This weekend, Nepalese tourism minister Prithvi Subba Gurung agreed, saying their real fears centred on potential trouble during the Olympic torch relay.
Everest from the Nepal side
He said: “This is to prevent some people who could infiltrate and cause trouble during the time when they take the torch to the top.”
Sir Ranulph’s expedition, led by Kenton Cool, is due to start in mid May, just days after the ban ends. This means there would be no time to make preparations and put equipment and supplies in place. Now, Mr Cool says he will appeal to the Nepalese authorities to see if they will relax their restrictions and allow the expedition to get supplies on to the mountain. If this fails, the venture will not be possible.
Sir Ranulph’s Everest bid aims to raise more than £2m for Marie Curie Cancer Support. A year ago, Sir Ran embarked on a successful climb of the North Face of the Eiger to raise cash for the charity.
He has suffered a heart attack, has vertigo and sawed off the fingertips of one frostbitten hand in his garden shed.