Mount Ama Dablam is seen behind Khumjung, a typical Sherpa village in Solukhumbu District, also known as the Everest region.
Climbing the Mount Everest is located on the top—pun intended—of many a thrill seeker’s bucket list. And with the news that the traditionally difficult to get access to the Tibetan entrance to the world’s highest mountain is about to open up to more visitors, Everest would be an even larger tourist destination than ever.
While most climbers choose to start their journey through Nepal, China is now sinking a significant amount of money to build infrastructure in Gangkar, on the Tibetan side of the mountain.
China Today reports that the government has big plans for the construction of a visitor center complex at the base of Qomolangma, the Tibetan name for Mount Everest.
The $14.7 million development will include a museum on mountaineering, a hotel and a centre catering for climbers of places to buy supplies, repair equipment, and for medical care. The construction will begin in early 2017 with an expected completion in 2019. Sources also told the Chinese newspaper that the project will boost the economy and create jobs for the Tibetans.
However, China’s ambitious new plan for the Gangkar is not without criticism. Tibet was once an autonomous country, but is part of the—some would say occupied by China since 1951.
Since then, there are constantly conflicts in the region, and the tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has spoken about the Tibetan independence during his life in exile. While some climbers have avoided the beginning of their Everest climbs in Tibet because of a lack of resources, others have stayed away for political reasons, and it seems that China’s development plan will largely focus on obtaining more and more Chinese people come to the Mount Everest, and are interested in climbing.
The multimillion-dollar Gangkar development of the project also includes plans for a helipad. While China Daily correctly points out that a helipad will make it easier for helicopters to rescue injured climbers or rescue people in case of an avalanche or other natural disasters, others worry that the mountain base camp will soon have an exclusive meeting place for the rich and non-climbers.
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The newspaper expressed concern that “Everest north Base Camp could be on the Chinese coach party circuit.” On the question of who is allowed to climb on the Mount Everest and why has long been central in the discussions over the mountain. Jon Body in 1997, is a bestseller In the Air detailed disastrous climbing season on Everest seen many deaths, and stresses the congestion was still a problem as well-heeled adventurers paid outrageously high amounts for its luxury tents at the base camp and sherpas assigned to carry their supplies.
One of the climbers of that season, which has come under the most control was Sandy Pittman, a wealthy New Yorker known for the stories of the flying friends to Everest Base Camp, a catered dinner with her. A massive new infrastructure project at Gangkar could be useful for climbers, but it can also turn your mountain into a place for day-trippers and unprepared amateurs.
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