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Asia, Nepal, Mount Everest, Post-Monsoon

Mount Everest, Post-Monsoon. In the post-monsoon, on the South Col route for Everest, there were three parties: seven South Koreans with an equal number of climbing Sherpas; a team of four French, two Belgian and one Swiss with four Sherpas; and one Japanese with his Sherpa, Lobsang Jangbu (see above). Of all these teams, only the South Koreans were successful. They carried on despite “every day snowing and every day avalanches—no good weather conditions,” as their leader, Lim Hyung-Chil, described it. On October 11 two Koreans arrived at the summit with two Sherpas and soon were followed by one more. All three Sherpas had already become Everest “conquerors” before this season.

On the Tibetan side there were also four autumn expeditions, all on the normal route, and of these only one, a very small Indonesian party, sent anyone to the summit. In addition, there was an international group who had begun their effort during the summer, in July, but had carried on into the autumn and did not give up until late September.

The summer-autumn group were six climbers led by Jean Troillet of Switzerland, who planned to make his descent by snowboard; a French member of the team, Pascal Arpin, intended to come down on skis. Their first choice of route was up the north face by way of the Japanese and Hornbein couloirs, which Troillet knew well from his rapid ascent and even more rapid descent in August 1986 with Erhard Loretan. But they abandoned that line on September 9 at 7300 meters because the wind was very strong, there was serious danger of wind-slab avalanching, and the wind had swept away the softer snow that they had to have for skiing and snowboarding. They then made two attempts to climb the normal route via the North Col, north ridge and north face, but again the wind was removing the snow and was becoming increasingly fierce and difficult to withstand. Troillet, another Swiss, Dominique Perret, and two Nepalis had reached 8300 meters on September 25 when they finally gave up.

Over on the Nepalese side two Belgians were discovered by the Nepalese government to have scaled the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, which rises 600 vertical meters above Base Camp, and reached the Western Cwm without any permit to go above base. For this violation of mountaineering regulations, the two, identified by the Nepalese authorities as Dirk Dansercoer of Huldenberg and Daniel Hernandez of Mechelen, Belgium, were forbidden to climb any peak in Nepal for a period of ten years because of “their attempt to climb Mount Everest without official permission,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism.

However they told me that they had not actually expected to climb Everest. They claimed they had trekked to Base Camp to visit a friend, a Belgian member of the French-Belgian-Swiss team, and had not done any “real climbing” but had gone up the Icefall just to see the part of the climbing route not visible from Base Camp and to be at the start of an historic climb. They asserted that they had no idea they were breaking any rules in doing this without a permit. But the ministry took the matter very seriously since the Nepalese government earns substantial fees for their climbing permits, receiving a minimum of $50,000 from each Everest expedition. The ministry could have asked them to pay a fine equal to double the Everest fee, but the officials realized there was no chance of collecting it.

Elizabeth Hawley