American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Mahalangur Himal—Khumbu Section, Palung Ri, Permit Confusion

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Palung Ri, permit confusion. A funny thing happened in connection with the first permit to be issued by the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism for Palung Ri. Two unsuspecting New Zealanders, Michael Chapman-Smith and Tim Logan, selected this mountain because they mistakenly believed it was unclimbed, and at 7,012m was just the right sort of altitude. Imagine their surprise when on the final approach to the mountain, they found a national boundary pillar and beyond it saw numerous tents comprising Cho Oyu base camp in Tibet.

Instead, they returned and climbed a 6,000er called Cho Rapsek that was definitely inside Nepal. They came back to Kathmandu to declare, as Chapman-Smith put it, that it was “morally unacceptable” for the Nepalese government to grant a permit for a mountain that wasn’t theirs.

In the initial list of 103 new peaks announced by the Nepalese Government in 2002, number 49, erroneously included but subsequently never removed, was Palung Ri (7,012m), a relatively easy snow peak that lies immediately north of Cho Oyu, well into Tibet. Apparently, various people pointed out this mistake to government officials at the time, but no corrective action was ever taken. The first recorded ascent of Palung Ri took place in 1995, when the Slovenian couple, Andrej and Marija Stremfelj, reached the top via the south ridge as part of their acclimatization for an ascent of Cho Oyu. It has been climbed several times since [including autumn 2006, see the Tibet section of Climbs and Expeditions].

Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal

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