Amid the tragedy that continues to unfold in Nepal, China has officially shut down Mount Everest’s North Side access for the season. According to an AP report, China has suspended climbing the world’s highest peak from their side, as well as climbing in all of Tibet through the spring, while Nepal’s South Side route will remain open.
“We are focusing our efforts on how we can help in Nepal, how we can get our members home, and how we can get our Sherpa team back to the Khumbu,” said legendary climbing and ski mountaineering guide Adrian Ballinger in an AP interview. Ballinger was leading a team of 10 climbers and 12 sherpas up from the China side when the earthquake struck Saturday.
No deaths were reported from the North Side, but Chinese officials have openly expressed fear of another quake, and are not willing to take that chance. AP also reports that the motion was also likely one of solidarity for affected parties in Nepal.
Meanwhile, in devastated Nepal, climbing routes remain open, a fact that has many in the world and climbing communities rubbed raw.
Said Ballinger to the AP, “My thought is expedition teams on the ground in Nepal — guides, doctors, Sherpas — could be using their skills and strength for far better purposes.”