My book Penguins on Everest opened up what I thought was a door for positive change. Following my Penguins lecture at The Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival I received an invitation from The Director of Tourism to hold my 'hard hitting critical' lecture to the Nepali Mountain Tourist Industry. When the Director of The Tourist Board invites it is not an invite, it is a command. The Minister of Aviation, Culture and Tourism came, the ex-Minister, representatives of NMA, HAAN, TAAN, CAAN, NTB, HRA, KEEP etc etc and leading agencies. It was a 'who's who' at the NTB Cinema - all it lacked was a red carpet with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
David Durkan (69)
Fjellklatrer fra Wales
Bosatt i Norge og Nepal
Jobbet 40 år i sportsbransjen og som turleder og fjellguide i Nepal
Grunnlegger av www.mountain-people.org
Forfatter av Penguins on Everest (2012)
Les også David Durkans tekst: Everestturismen
I covered the story of the mountain, mountaineering, all the way to today's commercial developments. Exposed the weaknesses, the dangers, listed every name of the 148 dead Nepali who had died on Everest, to that date. On the screen was the face of a widow, with baby in arms, who's husband still lays under the ice. Her saying, 'I still wait each morning for him to phone me.' I showed the flames of the cremations, the cry's from their widows and the faces of fatherless children. I noted in one day 34 children had lost their father in one accident, saying it was not accident, but murder!
Up on the screen I added the logo of each organisation that was involved in mountain tourism, including the Ministry. The lights came on, I stood in front of a deadly silent audience, they looked at their logos, I looked out, and with a sweeping finger, said clearly: 'You have nothing to be proud off.'
The silence was like being in a cemetery on a dark winters night, stunning, until the Minister half-clapped, to be followed by mild polite clapping. He stood up and thanked 'Mr Drunkan' (the name is Durkan, not drunkan), 'but this is NOT a book.' Ahhh, here comes the shit I thought. 'It is a serious document highlighting the situation we see before us. I will have my senior directors study your work. Thank you Mr Drunkan.'
Whether he thought I was drunk or not, or if they read it or not, I will never know. I did sell 60 books though. What I do know is that the 24 points I suggested for possible change were ignored. Two main ones, raise the peak fee and reduce the numbers saw the opposite happening. They granted a free peak-visa for a return attempt for all who failed that year, and no upper limit on numbers. The Mafia agents had in all likelihood instructed The Minister to give free permits, as the clients would have to pay the agents if they wanted a second attempt.
Les også om de dødelige køene i mai 2019: 11 dødfall på Everest bekreftet
Time past, the route was moved to a slightly safer line, some improvement in equipment was to be seen, but the story was repeated. The Ice-Fall Doctors put up the ladders and ropes, and the 'porters' carried the loads up the deadly ice-fall – each man crossing it 30 to 50 times in a month. Then with the path laid out, along came this years 'chosen' - the 'mountaineers' who had bought their permits.
Ed Dohring was one, who reached the summit the last week of May, where he noted, 'To get there I had to wait hours in a line, chest to chest, one puffy jacket after the next...even had to step around the body of a woman who had just died....'
How inconsiderate of her to die in the middle of the path, I thought. 'Money money money its a rich-mans world....' – with apologies to Abba. For it costs $11,000 for an individual permit, that when converted to N.Rps is big bucks. But such does not reach the people - disappearing into The Black Hole of Government coffers. The real big earners are the western and Nepali fat-cat agents, who sell in Everest to anyone who can pay the fee and tie their own shoe laces. Then, more deserving the 10 or so main Ice-Fall Doctors, the high-altitude lead guides (you cant get lost, they are 'minders') and the expedition Base Camp cook. But NOT the poorly paid, poorly insured, poorly equipped and poorly led porters, who go through the ice-fall day in day out carrying the equipment, food, fuel, and oxygen bottles for the record-seeking clients. Many of the latter still not having left their 5-Star hotel in Kathmandu.
Some say they need the work, Yes. But the present work methods are similar to sending a miner down a coal mine with a dead canary in his hand, as safety against poison gas. Poverty is not the excuse for incompetence by the organisations, nor their greed acceptable. Nor for Government complacency.
Add The Helicopter Scam (which I told the Minister about), where rescues (not always necessary) and evacuations, very often in helicopters owned by the same above noted agents/their families, and/or which generate 30 and 40% commissions paid out to 'rescue agent'. Add bonus commissions paid out by the hospitals that keep the patients in a week longer than necessary etc etc - then it becomes obvious that a multi billion Rupee business has developed – that a few deaths is not going to stop.'Ahaaaaaa it's a rich mans world.....'David Durkan.
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