Everest North Side Team Struggles to Snag Ski Permit

The American team aiming to ski down the Hornbein Couloir on Everest’s North Face continues to struggle with securing Chinese permission.

According to Nepal’s media, the Everest Ski Project costs a million dollars, largely provided by The North Face and National Geographic. Expedition leader Conrad Anker and head of filming Jimmy Chin seem still not to have sorted out their visa issues to enter Tibet. Anker was in Kathmandu last weekend. Chin’s location is unclear, but he seems to be hard at work lobbying the Chinese authorities.

OK to go up but not down

The rest of the team entered Tibet two weeks ago. Some members are in Tingri while others have reached Base Camp and already moved to Advanced Base Camp, at 6,400m, The Himalayan Times reported.

Their next steps are not so clear: They have a permit to climb the mountain via the Hornbein Couloir, but not to ski down. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association continues to delay granting them permission.

“ABC is set up and the fixing team will soon head for the Hornbein Couloir route to fix Camp I,” sources told The Himalayan Times. “There is no update from the Chinese authorities…[about issuing] a ski permit to the team.”

Camp I on Everest’s north side is at the North Col, at some 7,000m. From there, the normal route follows the NE Ridge. However, it is unclear which route the American team has chosen to reach the Hornbein Couloir.

The most elegant line is a direct route up the middle of the North Face, following the Japanese Couloir before getting into the Hornbein. However, that is a highly difficult and exposed route.

A picture of Everest covered in snow under the sun, with a red line marking the route.

The direct line of the Japanese Couloir/Hornbein Couloir on the North Face of Everest. Photo: Animal de Ruta


The Couloir was first climbed by an American expedition in 1963 and named after member Tom Hornbein. However, those Americans 60 years ago started their route from Nepal, followed the West Ridge, then crossed into Tibet — politically impossible today.

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.