Flag Flap Causes More Trouble for Purja

If Nirmal Purja’s controversial act of helping a Kuwaiti team unfold a giant flag from the summit of Ama Dablam was meant to draw attention, then it certainly succeeded. But whether the media turmoil it caused ends positively for Purja remains to be seen. It’s unlikely.

While the first reactions were mainly focused on whether the giant flag was too nationalistic, in bad taste or indicating a lack of respect to the mountain, some local outfitters pointed out a simpler argument against the idea: Purja lacked a proper permit for this act. This has drawn the attention of Nepal’s Department of Tourism and may lead to trouble for the climber and relatively new outfitter.

According to MyRepublica newspaper, Purja would have received a significant sum of money from the Kuwaitis to film the climb and display the flag, but he didn’t submit the money to Nepal’s authorities, as he was required to do.

Nirma Purja gives directions on the radio from Ama Dablam Base Camp. Photo: Elite Himalayan Adventures


“Purja’s climbing expedition company, Elite Himalayan Adventures, received $8,890 from the Kuwaiti expedition for an expedition film permit and for unfurling the flag from the mountaintop,” the newspaper reported. “But Purja did not pay the money to the government, nor did he seek any permission from the Department of Tourism, the authority responsible for regulating such activities.”

The subsequent media kerfuffle prompted Nepal’s Department of Tourism to investigate. “Purja eventually admitted that the mandatory permission was not sought,” reported MyRepublica. While no punishment has been administered as yet, Purja could potentially be banned from climbing in Nepal.

Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti team had hoped to carry the flag in question back home with them and display it publicly on their national day. Instead, tourism authorities in Nepal have seized it, at least temporarily. The expedition cost the Kuwaitis a total of $224,468.67, paid to Purja’s company.

Purja has not aired his own take on the matter, admitting on Facebook that he did indeed direct the climb and flag operation, which involved 40 guides, porters and BC staff.