Pre-Monsoon 2003, overview. The spring marked the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest and led to record numbers on the mountain. While there were well-over 100 expeditions to the permitted peaks in Nepal or on the Nepal/Tibet border (excluding Trekking Peaks), approximately half were to the world’s highest mountain. Elsewhere, very few climbers attempted to break new ground, although a new and difficult variation finish was established to the Standard Route on Kangchenjunga and Japanese made the first ascent of a 7,000m border peak. One or two Trekking Peaks, recently opened by the Nepalese Government (e.g. Machermo), gained their first official ascents. In July there was more helpful news for tourists when the government abolished mandatory Environment Officers for trekkers visiting Upper Mustang, Humla, Upper Dolpo, and the Vyas region of Darchula. This, it is hoped, will encourage more trekking in these areas. In the same announcement the government granted free visas for all visitors from neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. It also granted Western tourists a free three-day transit visa and waived the visa fee for anyone re-entering the country within one year of a 15-day sojourn in Nepal.