Climbing Everest Now Trendy in Different Countries

8000ers Everest
Prayer and national flags mix with expedition banners at Everest Base Camp.

Gone are the Japanese and Koreans. This is the era of Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern climbers

The number of climbers expected on Everest this spring season will be around 60 percent of a normal year, according to UK guide Kenton Cool. In 2019, by comparison, Nepal issued 381 permits for foreigners and another 140 did Everest via the Tibet side. That’s a lot of boots. This year, the Tibetan side remains closed, at least to non-Chinese teams.

According to their latest (January 17) count, Nepal’s Expedition Operators Association said that 286 foreign climbers have registered for spring Everest, although the final number will grow significantly by the end of March. Teams will then flock immediately to Base Camp or first acclimatize on nearby trekking peaks in April.

Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa plans to climb Everest this spring, after succeeding on Manaslu last autumn. File image of his arrival in Nepal months ago for the Manaslu expedition: Gulf News

While climbing permits for the 8,000’ers have not yet been issued – so far, only permits for Mera and Lobuche are on the books —  Nepal’s embassy in Bahrain has confirmed that a 16-member team led by Crown Prince Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa will fly to Kathmandu on March 15, bound for Everest.

Twelve members of the Prince’s Royal Guard will join him, as well as three British citizens, the People’s Review reported. Bin Hamad also led the only team that climbed an 8,000m peak in Nepal in 2020: They summited Manaslu in autumn, after acclimatizing on Lobuche.

Middle Eastern climbers have increased in the last few years, and their relatively easy access to vaccines will likely accelerate this trend in the near future. Meanwhile, COVID rates remain high in Europe, and travel restrictions continue in several countries, impacting the number of Westerners able to travel.

“I currently have 23 confirmed members,” Dawa Steven of Asian Trekking told ExplorersWeb. “Nationalities are Indian, Chinese, American, Colombian, Polish, and Greek, and I expect some last-minute additions. My Chinese and Western clients arrive on March 31 so they can go through quarantine.”

Since Indian clients don’t need to quarantine, his will arrive a week to 10 days later. “This year, there will definitely be fewer Europeans and fewer Americans too, because of COVID,” Dawa Steven added.

A rapidly growing market for Everest. Members in the Indian Navy Everest expedition, 2017.

These new trends in nationality go beyond the pandemic. “In terms of the number of climbers, Indians are number 1, Chinese are Number 2, and Americans are number 3,” said Dawa Steven. “This has been the case for a few years now.”

Meanwhile, the number of climbers from Japan and Korea is waning. “Korea is due to high profile accidents in the past which made sponsors shy away from big peaks, while the decreasing number of Japanese climbers reflects social and demographic changes,” the head of Asian Trekking explained. “The golden era of Japanese expeditions has ended. As I understand it, the clubs didn’t foster new talent, and as the previous generation of climbers stopped being able to come, there were no new climbers to take their place.”

Not surprisingly, a significant number of climbers sign on with outfitters from the same countries or similar cultures. Ryan Waters of Mountain Professionals, for instance, told ExplorersWeb that his Everest clients this spring hail from the U.S. and Norway.

In addition to Everest, climbers are also preparing for other 8,000m peaks in Nepal. Seven Summit Treks, the largest outfitter, expects climbers to head to Annapurna and Dhaulagiri on March 15. Some of them will try double-headers on nearby 8,000m peaks.

“We have people for Cho Oyu and Shishapangma as well but no green light from the Chinese Mountaineering Association,” says Thaneswar Guragai of SST. SST has also noticed a decrease in European clients and a corresponding increase in those from China. “We also have some from India, the Middle East (including the Bahraini Everest team), Brazil, the European Union, and Ukraine.”

Determined to increase social media likes, a Taiwanese visitor poses in a bikini at Everest Base Camp.

Considering the truism that Everest Base Camp is a field of millionaires, it is likely that climbers’ nationalities fluctuate with economic trends and a country’s global prestige. What might have been an incomprehensible waste of money just a few years ago may have evolved into a symbol of strength and professional achievement, even prompting the faking of summits, as recently occurred.

Alan Arnette suggests another reason for an uptick in Chinese visitors to Nepal: A previous 8,000m summit is needed to climb Everest from Tibet, he says, so many inexperienced Chinese go to Nepal for a first 8,000m experience before attempting Everest back home.

Finally, the total tally of Everest summits per nationality, as compiled by Fergus White on his High Altitude Expeditions’ blog, shows that after Nepal, the highest numbers of summiters come from the U.S., but India and China are quickly catching up.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Tenzin
Tenzin
1 month ago

When will they learn that climbing Everest is not glorious anymore? Sorry, I shouldn’t have used the word “climbing” because jumaring up fixed ropes is not actually climbing. I’m sure most would agree that it is now seen as a circus. I doubt that every one of these individuals is a “motivated, passionate adventurer”. They must be fueled by nationalistic pride, egos and social-media validation.

Once again, thanks, Angela for your work as always!

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Damien François
Damien François
1 month ago
Reply to  Tenzin

It IS glorious for an individual! It is no longer a giant step for humanity, sure, but even going to the moon isn’t…
It’s so easy and such a circus, climbing Everest, that people die. Sure…

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Tenzin
Tenzin
1 month ago

Alright, buddy…

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Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago

Here’s the Prince in action!

https://youtu.be/Hh58DAynWfs?t=1019

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Last edited 1 month ago by Don Paul
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

And he looks like such a nice guy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasser_bin_Hamad_Al_Khalifa

If any rescue is required by this team, bet it won’t be delayed like Wui Kin Chin’s was. Because this is a VVIP expedition, as Mingma of SST repeats again and again.

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Kurt
Kurt
1 month ago

If you have the cash, it is still a great experience! I would rather spend the cash and time doing this than sit on a beach 🙂 Maybe there is no new exploring going on but so what? It is like the rest of the world really; all the white spots on the map have been filled. It is hard to hide among your 8 billion Earth brothers and sisters. Just do not make it into a big deal. Enjoy your trip and leave it at that.

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Last edited 1 month ago by Kurt
Damien François
Damien François
1 month ago
Reply to  Kurt

Thank you! A bit of sound and common sense thinkingit is so refreshing here…

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MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago

And in the US the big thing seems to be climbing to raise funds for charity. Here is the latest story, climbing this year, and going public about it: https://abenteuer-berg.de/en/ex-nfl-pro-mark-pattison-im-ready-for-mount-everest/#more-51164 The goal of this effort was to raise Given that climbing with MM costs $75k (plus travel, gear and personal expenses likely bringing the total to at least $100k), and this effort has raised $50K for charity the obvious question: Why not just donate the $100k you would have spent as an Everest tourist directly to charity? Then just ask your friends and colleagues to do the same (without using… Read more »