The April earthquake in Nepal killed over 8,000 people, 19 of which we’re climbing Everest at the time, their lives swept away by an avalanche. Not only was this a tragic end to many lives, but also the spring climbing season, a month early for the mountain. Nepal is a poor country and largely depends on the money that comes along with the popular quest to climb the highest mountain in the world. A horrific end to the spring climbing season was also a sad economic one.
News reporters flooded into the nation and reported back to us the tragedy that was unfolding after the quakes. Stories of survival and mourning, it’s all we heard about until the next disaster came along and stole our attention. Sure people and organizations stayed to help those in need, but as far as national media attention, the country and those suffering in it were soon an after thought.
Everest is now open for climbing and Nepal wants to send the message that it’s safe. This is a tough message considering Everest’s long history with death and the unfavorable weather in the fall climbing season. The tourism minister, Kripasur Sherpa, gave Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki his climbing permit for Everest on Sunday in a grand ceremony in Kathmandu. A formal show was put on in an attempt to bring media attention, and hopefully our donations, back to the desperate situation in Nepal. Kuriki has been telling news sources that he hopes to show the world that Nepal is safe for climbers and trekkers. But is climbing a deadly mountain during an unfavorable season really the best way to go about it?
Some journalist are calling Kuriki a daredevil and like to point out his last four failures to summit Everest. Perhaps Kuriki’s reasoning for climbing the mountain isn’t for personal gain, like it is for most if not all climbers, but to restore faith in the residents of Nepal. To have your livelihood taken away by disaster is a hard thing to recover from. If anyone knows failure and loss, Kuriki does with his many failed attempts to summit. Perhaps it will be a win win situation both for climber and nation.
The world is full of organizations looking to support a cause such as the tragedy in Nepal and the climbing world is no different. Alpine Ascents International is a group that helps raise awareness and fundraise for non-profits. They would be perfect for Kuriki’s cause, but unfortunately he’s just a climber, not a non-profit. Perhaps drawing attention to the site that has caused so much death, shortly after the earthquakes tragedy, wouldn’t be a good business model for non-profits. Perhaps Kuriki was tired of waiting for the next big organization to sweep in and save the day, so he stepped up to the task. Hopefully he’s not taking advantage of a bad situation to finally fulfill a goal, but is genuine in his purpose.
Some could say Kuriki’s attempt to summit Everest is reckless and will only cause more bad publicity for the mountain. Others may think of him as brave and selfless for taking on such an insurmountable journey that is most likely doomed to fail. However, even bad publicity is good publicity and the earthquake in Nepal has long been forgotten in the news. No matter Kuriki’s outcome with his climb, he will have succeeded in at least bringing the critical public eye back to those in need.
Written by Jamie Donnelly