A Tibet Permit in the Works? Plus: Annapurna Summit Schedule

Teams are in a rush to launch summit pushes, especially those climbers and Sherpa guides with several peaks on their spring calendar. But mountains are insensitive to deadlines, forcing teams to be patient, juggle with plans, or make wholesale changes.

That is the case with some Manaslu climbers, who are not on Manaslu anymore. While Adriana Brownlee and the Sherpa team are in Samagaon, waiting for better Manaslu conditions, Kristin Harila and Gelje Sherpa flew back to Kathmandu “for another project,” Brownlee said.

Last-minute Tibet permit?

Brownlee wrote that Gelje was about to “embark on his final 8,000er.” In addition to Manaslu’s true summit, which he has not yet reached, Gelje Sherpa has just one more peak to go: Cho Oyu. He attempted it from Nepal on two previous occasions, but the mountain is much easier from the Chinese side.

Cho Oyu is a likely objective if they have somehow obtained a last-minute permit to climb in Tibet. (Grace Tseng of Taiwan was also hoping to get a Chinese permit before heading to Everest.)

Otherwise, given the delay on Manaslu, Harila and company could join a summit push on any other Nepal 8,000’er. This would work for Harila, who wants to climb all 14×8,000’ers in six months.

The age of helicopters

Such a flexible strategy is only possible thanks to the wide use of helicopters. Climber and pilot Simone Moro calls helicopters “[this machine whose use in the mountains] many complain and philosophize about, often pointing to it as the absolute evil. But when it comes and rescues you, everyone blesses it.”

A helicopter lands on the snow under the sun, rising plumes of powder snow all around it.

Simone Moro of Italy is again piloting helicopters in Nepal. Photo: Simone Moro/Instagram


Helicopters and their skilled pilots have saved many lives in the mountains. But the debate is over the use of helicopters to transport clients to and fro. It shuttles them from one base camp to the next or ferries them to town so they don’t have to wait out bad weather in a base camp tent.

There are also different points of view about using helicopters to carry loads. They are faster and more efficient than convoys of yaks or mules, but they have also encouraged, some say, an excess of luxury items and loads of supplementary oxygen.

Harila has never concealed her strong reliance on aerial transportation in her project. At the same time, she has repeatedly wondered how can she cut down her carbon footprint. She has promised to do it, but only after her 2023 project is complete.


The first summit push should take place on Annapurna within a few days. Conditions on the mountain are still unstable, but most climbers have been up to Camp 2 to acclimatize. When conditions are finally ready, this may be a massive summit push. Some teams had hoped for Wednesday, but the final days of this week now seem more likely.

At great risk, a combined group of Sherpa guides from EliteExped and Imagine Nepal have fixed the ropes to at least Camp 3. This work took them through the sections of the mountain most exposed to avalanches.

The Sherpa guide, in a whiteout, carries a huge bacpack and is dressed in an orage jacket and covers his face with a blue scarf under his sunglasses.

Mingma G fixes ropes on Annapurna. Photo: Instagram


Treacherous conditions

Mingma G, Imagine Nepal’s leader, took his group on a vigorous push, despite his own lack of previous acclimatization.

“I climbed to Camp1 on [March] 26, Camp 2 on the 27th, and set up a temporary Camp 3 at 6,200m on March 28,” wrote Mingma G. “Then on March 29, three Sherpas from EliteExped and three from Imagine Nepal opened the route to Camp 3.”

They were lucky to escape a big avalanche that swept that part of the mountain on March 27 “by a few minutes,” revealed Mingma G.

Mingma G also admitted that they placed their provisional Camp 3 tent under looming seracs. “The noises from the avalanches and crevasses woke us up frequently both nights,” he said. Nevertheless, the route to Camp 3 is complete.

Mingma G posted a video showing his arrival in Base Camp:

Like other Sherpa guides on Annapurna, Mingma G warns that conditions this season are particularly perilous: “We had a drought all winter and now it is snowing almost every day,” he said. “The effect is clear on Annapurna: deep snow, frequent avalanches, and several crevasses.”

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.