(ExplorersWeb.com) In previous years, ExplorersWeb have published one big Year in Review on January 1st.
This year we are cutting it up in sections, to be posted every day until the awards, with the compiled report to go up early 2010.
Part 4 : – ExplorersWeb Year 2009 in Review: The Oceans.
Today the final flashback: Statistics and Politics.
In spring, the Tibetan side of Everest was closed for climbing until April 1 due to the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama exile. Authorities issued some climbing permits later on but continued to restrict access to the region.
In fall, China again banned entry into Tibet reportedly due an Oct. 1 communist celebration in Beijing. Afterwards, Chinese police searched expeditions’ gear at the border and a Belgian mountaineer was reportedly kicked out after officers found a “Free-Tibet” flag among his personal equipment.
In a March 10 MountEverest.net special, a full story (different from China’s official version) of the 50 years-long battle was published at ExplorersWeb by an explorer who was there. Close to ninety years old now, George Patterson became involved with the Tibetan resistance to the invading Chinese Communist army in the winter of 1949. His inside story about Tibet read like a spy/war novel; complete with secret top-rank political meetings, betrayal, murder and finally the eradication of an entire culture.
US President Barack Obama raised the Tibet issue in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in the White House. Lawmakers at EU’s Parliament urged China to renew dialogue on real autonomy for Tibet. China issued a number of denouncing press releases while a representative told Hillary Clinton that the US should “stop meddling in China’s internal affairs.”
Enroute to China Hillary Clinton remarked that contentious issues such as human rights “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis.” When President Obama dodged a meeting with Dalai Lama former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel sounded off.
Once the first head of state to directly invite the Tibetan leader, Havel said that the Chinese only reacted by coming over with a bunch of books with their own version of the Lama. “Because they respect it when someone is standing his ground, when someone is not afraid of them,” Havel explained, adding, “When someone soils his pants prematurely, then they do not respect you more for it.”
A legal fight developed between Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz and the Chinese authorities in connection with the violent 2008 crackdown on protesters in Tibet and the 2006 shootings at Nangpa La. ExplorersWeb was again affected by cyber attacks. This time the intrusions were tracked to Chinese IP addresses.
A historic first ever meet of Nepali climbers was convened in Kathmandu on 21 June. It was attended by 34 regional mountaineers clubs, mountaineering related association/agencies, approximately 600 Nepali climbers and 100 expedition operator representatives.
Over 30 speakers, majority of them Nepali climbers, spoke on special provisions to be incorporated in the drafting of the new constitution to address concerns of Nepali mountaineers such as rescues, social security, insurance, regulations, education and retirement.
“Nepali mountaineers have come of age to lead their own destiny,” said one. “Does the state know the plight of Nepali climbers when they get old?” asked another. “Foreign climbers talk more about their yaks than their Sherpas,” a third chimed in.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Maoist Nepal ranks eighth in the list of countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis. An editor of the Nepali Times told a climber that if local conflicts are not resolved, a war could break out that would be “Bosnia times ten.”
Antoine Girard, Ludo Gianbiasi and Annapurna survivor Eli Revol drove non-stop past Chilas, “since Taliban terrorists are reported to descend from Swat valley in the dark and loot convoys staying for the night in villages by the KKH.” Some later climbers on the highway enjoyed police escort and reported high security also in Islamabad due to bomb attacks.
American Teru Kuwayama, the fearless NYC photographer who has helped Central Asia Institute (CAI) for several years and New York Times photographer/writer Lynsey Addario were involved in a near fatal accident on the road from Peshawar to Islamabad. Teru had multiple contusions and head trauma, while Lynsey sustained a broken collarbone among other injuries. Sadly, Pathan driver Raza Khan was killed.
Rumors about the kidnapping of a foreign expedition leader were debunked by ExWeb correspondent in Islamabad Karrar Haidri. “A French citizen has been kidnapped in Quetta as he arrived there from Iran, but that person is not related to climbing expeditions,” he said.
An avalanche of Iranian climbers hit Karakoram this summer. 22 Iranian climbers from three different provinces arrived only on G2, Spantik was summited by a whole bunch of Iranian lady climbers and the Arash Mountaineers on Broad Peak SW face cleaned up not only after themselves but most of the entire mountain after some of their fellow Iranians were criticized for dumping trash.
In the midst of the ascents, wild protests against the regime broke out in the streets of Tehran, with the folks tweeting (in vain) the west for support. K2 summiteer Kazem Faridian was arrested on 25 June and held in the notorious Evin prison for almost 50 days.
“The Tigers of Wakhan,” Afiat Khan, Gurg Ali, Amrudin and Malang summited Afghanistan’s highest peak, Noshaq (7492m) with two guides from Chamonix. The mountain has had many ascents including the first 7000er winter climb, but never by Afghans themselves. Project manager Louis Meunier plus guides Jean Annequin and Simon Destombes helped the four Afghan men to become the first locals to reach the summit.
“This has been our best year ever to set up about twenty new (mostly) girls schools in Afghanistan. With the help of local shura elders, we’ve been able to start efforts in volatile areas like Urozgan, Kunar, Patika, and Wardak province,” wrote Greg Mortenson from Afghanistan. CNN ran a Christiane Amanpour special two hour feature called “Generation Islam” with 20 minutes dedicated to Central Asia Institute’s work in Afghanistan.
In an extensive spring 2009 Everest & Himalaya climbing end report, Rodrigo Granzotto Peron accounted for the youngest, the oldest, the races and the new faces, the controversies, the triumphs, the disasters and even a mystery – all reported in numbers as well as a thrilling narrative.
A Karakoram summer 8000+ summits showed very few summits on G2 and K2, and zero summits on Broad Peak. Fewer climbers, bad climbing conditions – but also an improved watch of true summits all contributed to the resulting 35 summits this season, compared to 93 in 2008. And on only 35 summits, we lost 5 mountaineers on the Karakoram 8000ers.
Peron next updated the list of 14, 8000er mountaineers with 6 summits or more.
8000er national ranking: How many (and which) countries have at least one climber with all 14x8000ers summited? And who’s next up? Rodrigo ran the stats.
And finally we are leaving 2009 with an update on the women.
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Filed under: Climbers, Expedition, Himalayas, Week-In-Review | Tagged: Broad Peak, Climbers, Dhaulagiri, Expedition, Gasherbrum, Himalaya, K2, Karakoram, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, Nepal, Pakistan, Shisha Pangma, stolen and manipulated pictures, Travel |