Visa Problems, Confusion Swirl Around Everest North Side

International teams, outfitted by Nepali companies, crossed the Tibetan Border yesterday. Most of the hundred or so climbers are on their way to Cho Oyu, but a small group is going to try to climb and ski Everest’s North Side via the Hornbein Couloir.

A massive building on the far side of a bridge, with an arch in the middle to let vehicles pass, in a green, montanous setting.

The gates of Tibet (China) at the Kerung Border point. Photo: new business age

Problems with the visas for Tibet

The Everest team, led by Conrad Anker, funded by National Geographic, and outfitted by EliteExped, made it to Tibet today after the Chinese embassy initially rejected Conrad  Anker’s visa application.

Jimmy Chin traveled to Beijing earlier in the week to try and solve the paperwork. Climbers at the Kathmandu airport saw the National Geographic team ready to take a helicopter to the border yesterday. They told ExplorersWeb that Anker was not in the group but was waiting at the border for them.

Purja, Manaslu client Rajan Dwivedi, and Conrad Anker in Kathmandu a few days ago

Nirmal Purja Purja, Manaslu client Rajan Dwivedi, and Conrad Anker in Kathmandu a few days ago. Photo: Rajan Dwivedi


Shortly later, The Himalayan Times published that while most of the team had made it across without problems, Anker had been turned around at the border and that Jimmy Chin had been denied the visa for Tibet as well.

However, American skier Luke Smithwick, again climbing in Nepal this season, spoke to the team today. He told ExplorersWeb that “the entire group” made it to Tingri, a typical stop-over on the way to Everest’s North Side. Currently, we are waiting for confirmation about the whereabouts of Chin and Anker.

Jim Morrison to ski Everest?

Details concerning this expedition are sketchy, since neither the members nor sponsoring companies The North Face and National Geographic, have revealed the plans. According to The Himalayan Times, Anker is the expedition leader, Chin is the head of the film team, and the skier would be Jim Morrison.

For the American ski-mountaineer, the project is a tribute to his late wife Hilaree Nelson. She perished last year while attempting to ski from the summit of Manaslu.

Close shot of Chin during a lecture.

File image of Jimmy Chin. Photo: Wikipedia


Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Nirmal Purja’s company partner at EliteExped, will lead the rope-fixing team. Tenzi had a major role in the search and recovery of Hilaree Nelson’s body last year. Nelson fell from Manaslu’s summit area shortly after starting her ski descent. Her husband was skiing slightly ahead of her and could do nothing to help.

Once in Tibet, the team will add some local climbers.

Green light for Cho Oyu climbers

The teams heading for Cho Oyu and Shishapangma have been luckier. Climbing permits were approved at the beginning of September and on Tuesday the Chinese embassy issued the visas for the climbing expeditions operated by Nepali companies.

Those climbers who were in Kathmandu are on their way to the mountains. More climbers will follow over the next few days. Gelje Sherpa posted on Instagram that he would leave for China on Monday, likely with Adriana Brownlee. Cho Oyu is the only peak left for Gelje on his 14×8,000m quest, while Brownlee also needs Shishapangma.

Some of the climbers currently on Manaslu might also move on to the Tibetan peaks after their summit climbs.

Gelje Sherpa’s IG story posted yesterday.


Agencies in Nepal confirmed that the climbers who reached the border yesterday belong to Imagine Nepal, Climbalaya Expeditions, and Seven Summit Treks. They totaled roughly 100 climbers. All of them headed for the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border, which opened in March this year.

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.