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Nepalese Maoist Rebels Conflict with Climbers


by Editor

October 31, 2002

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

As reported in the American Alpine Club E-News, "Last December the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism opened up 103 peaks to climbers as part of an effort to boost tourism in the country, which had decreased dramatically due to internal strife between the government and Maoist rebels. While climbers have sought out the new mountaineering challenges, they have not been greeted warmly by all locals.

On September 20, Helly Hansen Mountain Adventure Award recipients David Morton and Jeff Lamoureaux were fired upon by two men, one of whom was wearing a Chinese military uniform, as they made their way to base camp while attempting to climb Nangpa Gossum, the highest of the newly opened peaks. After hiding behind rocks for four hours, the duo fled to Namche Bazar where they contacted Nepalese police, who escorted them back to retrieve their gear. The Chinese government disavowed any knowledge of the incident.

More recently, British alpinist Stevie Haston and his party of 11 mountaineers were seized at gunpoint by heavily armed men believed to be Maoist rebels while en route to 22,146-foot Ramtang Chang. The gunmen demanded a ransom reported to be between $4,000 to $8,000. The rebels allowed Haston's party to establish a camp higher up on the peak, but the group doubled back and sought out a remote village where they used a satellite phone to call for help. Reportedly, the group was being shuttled to safety via a private helicopter.

In addition to these two incidents, rebels intercepted several Makalu expeditions this spring and demanded financial payments to keep their camera equipment.

(AAC) Cascade Section Chair Peter Ackroyd responded (in the AAC) July E-News issue that, "If you take time to find out where the main conflicts are occurring you can have a safe and very enjoyable experience. If you choose to go through areas where the Maoists are known to have strongholds (like the areas the Makalu expeditions went through), then you take that risk!"

News courtesy of American Alpine Club

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