Made it Ma! Top Of The World! – Not Nowadays, Pal, Not Without A Permit!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


The first part of the heading of this blog post is the famous last line from the 1949 gangster movie “White Heat”, starring the late James Cagney. If you are a film buff you may have heard of it.

And if you have read much of this blog you will know already that the bureaucrats who try to curtail our freedom and the morons they employ to help them are everywhere.

What you maybe didn’t realize is that everywhere means EVERYWHERE.

And everywhere includes Mount Everest! If climbing it is on your bucket list, then get a pen and put a line through it unless you have a pile of cash and are prepared to jump through a lot  bureaucratic hoops.

First off you will need all your paperwork in order. You will have to tackle the Nepal Ministry and Administration and various people wanting their slice of the pie.

You’ll need

  • a local Trekking Agency to file for a permit 6 months prior to the expedition;
  • a copy of your passport;
  • passport pictures;
  • a letter of recommendation from your local Alpine Association/Climbing club.

And that’s even before your get there.

Once in Kathmandu, you will

  • file additional papers;
  • have a half-hour briefing with the minister or his associates about climbing sensibly and to care for the environment:
  • then another much longer briefing;
  • more papers to fill out;
  • an environment security of around $4,000 returned when the expedition has brought back the trash and empty oxygen bottles;
  • pay a Liaison Officer who will spend some time in your camp;
  • and finally, a film permit if you are doing a commercial film, shooting private video is free.

Then you will need to stump up a hefty fee for a permit which will set you back a minimum of $25,000 to over $70,000 depending on various factors. And that’s not including other substantial costs such as your climbing gear and tour guides.

Remarkably, despite the bureaucracy, the heavy fees, and the physical risks involved in the venture, there is a long, long queue of morons  –  sorry make that mountaineers  –  eager to make the climb.

And woe betide you if you try to circumvent the bureaucrats.

A young Chinese climber tried that a few weeks ago. He had made it 25,500 feet up the mountain’s North Col route to within a few thousand feet of reaching the summit when he was spotted camping alone, away from other expeditions.

The people who spotted him were a contingent from the Tibet Mountaineering Guide School. These would-be bureaucracy enforcers challenged him and, when he could not produce a permit, physically assaulted him and removed him from the trail.

Someone who witnessed the spectacle wrote in an email:

“I did see the permitless chap being ushered down the hill.  The Tibetan rope fixers were sent up to get him. I saw them bringing him down the ropes from the North Col to [advanced base camp]. It was disgraceful. They literally kicked him down the ropes. It was a disgusting example of a pack of bullies egging each other on and literally beating him down the hill. It was absolutely unnecessary as he was offering no resistance and was scared out of his mind.  The Tibetans should, and could, have just escorted him down the hill and let the authorities deal with him.”

So be warned, not just about Everest, which I don’t think many of us want to tackle, but about the dangers of allowing the bureaucrats and their enforcers to run roughshod over ordinary citizens.

There are other hazards with trying to climb Everest too, as the rather eccentric British actor Brian Blessed found out when he was part of an expedition to climb the mountain some years ago.

I’ll leave the final word with him.



***PLEASE NOTE*** It has been brought to my attention that this video is blocked for US viewers. If anyone would like to see it just send a comment and I will email it to you. It is approx 6MB in size so should be okay for most email addresses.