China’s Silence Triggers Everest’s North Side Cancellations

There is no news yet from the China Tibet Mountaineering Association about opening Everest’s North side to foreigners, and time is running out. Most international outfitters have had to cancel their plans because of a lack of time to set up logistics.

“Last week, there was a meeting where all government [tourism] offices in Tibet requested a resumption of permits for foreign tourists and expeditions,” Alfonso Para, a tour operator based in Lhasa, wrote yesterday.

“We do not expect official news until March, after the Losar celebrations [the Tibetan New Year],” Para told ExplorersWeb.

Losar celebrations in Tibet. Photo:


Permits to resume in March?

The Tibetan New Year is February 21, and the celebrations last one to two weeks, similar to the Chinese New Year festivities. However, it is an independent holiday. (Read more here). The end of the celebrations marks the beginning of spring and the tourism season in Tibet, which is usually inactive during winter.

“Local agencies expect Tibetan travel permits to resume in March and foreign residents [to] be allowed to visit Tibet from April 1,” Para said. “We must wait to see when the central government resumes International Tourist visas.”

Too late for most – but not all – Everest outfitters

Unfortunately, April 1 is too late for most foreign outfitters to organize expeditions to Everest’s North Side. Among those consulted, only Furtenbach Adventures was optimistic.

“Our expedition would start April 24, thanks to the fact that we are acclimatizing at home,” Lukas Furtenbach said. “We are the only operator with supplies and logistics on both sides. We are preparing both [options], so we can switch at the last minute.”

Camp 1 at the North Col on Everest’s North Side. Photo: Furtenbach Adventures


Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions told ExplorersWeb that they had expected some news by last week but heard nothing. “The beginning of March is a very late date to confirm an expedition,” he admitted. Alpenglow will post soon about their plans.

There is also no information yet on which operators will be permitted to launch expeditions in Tibet. This would apply to all three 8,000m peaks in the territory.

Bad news for record seekers

“Ready for China?” posted Adriana Brownlee posted an Instagram story two days ago, but she has not followed up on this hopeful post. Kristine Harila of Norway — who aims who re-do her attempt to climb all 8,000’ers in less than six months — also hoped to climb Cho Oyu from its normal, Tibetan side after failed attempts this past fall and winter.

Most outfitters are delaying their expeditions to Cho Oyu and Shishapangma until the fall post-monsoon season. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association has the last word, but if they delay too long, there won’t be enough time to organize for this spring.

Cho Oyu from Advanced Base Camp. Photo: Alpenglow Expeditions


“My personal opinion is that 2023 will be a transition year, and everything will be back to normal in April 2024,” said Para.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.