First Everest Controversy of the Year: the New Welcome Signboard

As trekkers pour up the Khumbu Valley toward Everest, they will find a surprising new landmark at Base Camp: a signboard welcoming visitors. The structure, featuring images of Hilary and Tenzing, sits on the glacier right in front of a big, graffiti-covered boulder that for years symbolized the official arrival at Base Camp. Comments have swamped social media since the first images of this new, fancier display appeared.

It is hard to tell exactly when one enters Everest Base Camp since it’s so sprawling. Expedition tents usually sit as close to the Khumbu Icefall as possible. But for trekkers, the arrival sign — and the classic photo icon —  was that old boulder noting the place and the impressive 5,364m altitude.

A treker on top of the stone at Everest Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier.

A trekker stands atop the famous Everest Base Camp stone. Photo: Alpine Ramble Treks


But this year, the Pasang Lhamu Municipality has decided to replace the famous stone with this welcome (and seemingly unwelcome) display.

Reactions: 1,000% worse

The popular blog Everest Today was the first to share this story’s lead image widely. “That iconic signature stone alone is 1000% better than this one,” they wrote.

Also today, UK Everest guide Kenton Cool put a picture of the new banner on X. Cool didn’t take a stand himself, but comments from followers were uniformly negative. They saw the move as another sign of the increasing commercialism of the world’s highest mountain.

But why the response? Such displays are common on many popular trekking and climbing routes. Even some summits, like Kilimanjaro’s, have them. Everest Base Camp trekkers find similar signs at Namche Bazaar and at many Nepalese Base Camps, especially the lower ones that trekkers commonly visit, such as those on Annapurna’s south side and Makalu.

A board in front of Annapurna south face.

Signboard at Annapurna’s south side (lower) Base Camp, a popular trekking spot. Photo: Upper Mustang Trek


The novelty this time is that the board has usurped the place of an existing landmark that, except for the graffiti, was a natural part of the landscape. It stands right in front of the old rock. With Everest Base Camp already a focus of attention because of the ecological impact of commercialization, this is one more reminder of what the mountain first ascended by Hilary and Tenzing to worldwide acclaim has become.

It remains to be seen if the Khumbu Valley authorities will consider moving the sign if negative comments continue. It may not even be necessary. Only a few rocks secure the sign on this ever-moving glacial terrain. It may soon topple on its own accord, possibly even before the end of the season.

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.