Nepal lifts ban on Everest as Olympic torch summits

KATHMANDU, May 8, 2008 (AFP) – Scores of climbers waiting on the southern Nepalese approach to Mount Everest will be allowed to proceed after the Chinese Olympic torch team made it to the roof of the world, officials said Thursday. “Mountaineers will be allowed to move towards the summit from Friday,” said Prem Rai, Nepal’s tourism ministry spokesman.

Nepal imposed strict new regulations this season in an effort to prevent pro-Tibet protests on Everest as Olympic hosts China took a specially adapted torch via the Tibetan approach to the world’s highest peak.

Although climbers will now be allowed to try for the summit, pro-Tibet protests remain banned and armed soldiers will remain on the mountain for the whole of the spring season, the official said.

“Security forces will continue to search all the expedition teams and strictly monitor the activities of each individual,” said Rai.

Nepal officially recognises Beijing’s “One China” policy that sees Tibet and Taiwan as indivisible parts of China.

The spring season offers a brief window for attempts to scale the 8,848-metre (29,198-foot) peak. Jetstream winds at the summit drop briefly before the summer monsoon rolls in at the end of May. .