Ukraine Updates: Despite appeals from Ukrainian officials and mountaineers for them to be banned after President Putin launched soldiers into Ukraine, nine Russians were granted licences to climb peaks in Nepal this spring. Numerous international sports federations have prohibited Russian athletes, according to a diplomatic message from Ukraine’s embassy in Delhi to Nepal’s government.
“In light of the foregoing, the esteemed Nepalese side is kindly requested to prohibit Russian mountaineering teams from entering Ukraine until the end of [the] Russian invasion,” the letter reads. Officials in Nepal, on the other hand, insist they will continue to give licences to everyone who follows the government’s norms and regulations.
“OUR STANCE HAS NOT CHANGED SO FAR,” TARANATH ADHIKARI, THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF NEPAL’S TOURIST DEPARTMENT.
“We feel our mountains are global assets, and any residents of other nations who want to visit them in order to achieve peace should be permitted to do so – as long as they follow our legal guidelines.” The Ukrainian embassy in Delhi claims to have submitted its request to the Nepalese mission in the Indian capital on March 21, but Nepalese diplomatic officials told the BBC they had gotten no response.
One Russian climber has been granted permission to climb Annapurna I (8,091m), while eight others have been granted permission to climb peaks below 6,500m for the spring climbing season, which typically lasts until the end of May.
“We’ve maintained our standard policy. Furthermore, because the government has made no statement in this regard, we have not made any fresh decisions “Santa Bir Lama, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), states
Irina Galay, the first Ukrainian woman to climb Everest and K2, the world’s highest and second highest mountains, remarked on Instagram that Russians should not be allowed to climb “as long as the war continues.”
“THERE WILL BE NO CLIMB IF THERE IS NO PEACE. HOPEFULLY, WE WILL SOON BE ABLE TO CLIMB IN PEACE.”
After the Russian invasion, Oleg Ivanchenko, a Ukrainian mountain guide, had to abandon his plans to climb Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse with two of his clients this spring. “I understand that some people believe that mountains are sacred and that they should not be used for politics,” he says. “However, we expect support from Russian mountaineers as well, and they can protest – or at the very least not climb and remain in Russia.” This spring, no Ukrainian climbers are expected.
“We had around 35 climbers from Ukraine coming in for various summits, including Everest, but they all had to cancel,” says Mingma Sherpa, head of Seven Summit Treks, a Nepalese climbing and trekking company. “Because of the war, we’ve received cancellations from Russian climbers as well as other European climbers.”
In 2021, more than 400 international climbers were granted permits for Everest alone, setting a new record. However, this spring season, which is normally busier than the autumn, permits have been approved for only three Everest expeditions totaling 16 climbers. The Nepalese Expedition Operators’ Association claims to be impartial when dealing with mountaineers. “We are professional operators who service our clients regardless of their nationalities,” says Dambar Parajuli, president of the association.