Everest, cross-border traverses. Everest traverses seem to have become the latest fashion, with an unprecedented four successfully completed in the spring season. Three had received permission from both the Chinese and Nepalese authorities; one had not, but managed to get away with it—at a price, literally.
The Italian Simone Moro had no permit to make a traverse. According to him, he had intended to reach the summit from Nepal via the South Col, then descend the Tibetan north face via the Hornbein Couloir, move across to the west ridge and down the Nepalese flank into the Western Cwm, where he had left a camp. But, he claimed, he became lost in the moonless dark and had to follow the fixed ropes down the normal Tibetan route, pulling them out of the snow as he went. An Italian friend, who lives in Lhasa and speaks Chinese and Tibetan, met him in base camp and explained to the authorities, both there and at the nearest police post, how he had innocently gotten lost. The police sold him a pass that allowed him to cross the border into Nepal.
Others who were on the mountain at the same time point out that Moro had taken his passport with him, which is most unusual when climbing from Nepal. They also say there was a tent and an oxygen bottle labeled “MORO” placed by two Italians, Marco Astori and Roberto Piantoni, at 8,100-8,200m on the normal Tibetan route. His friend was already waiting for him at base camp when he arrived, but Moro had no satellite phone, so their meeting must have been pre-arranged. He had to pay $3,000 for his permit to cross the border.
Those who did have permits came from three other expeditions. The Swiss, Mario Julen, with Sherpa Da Nima, crossed from south to north. Korean Park Young-Seok and Serap Jangbu Sherpa, and at a different time Dawa Sherpa alone, traversed from north to south. Dawa rightly claimed a traverse speed record with his elapsed time of 20 hours and 15 minutes, verified by the leaders of teams he left on the north side and joined on the south side. He used two bottles of oxygen, starting at 8,300m during his ascent and finishing at 8,500m on the descent.
Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal