This dangerous business has crowded Everest with people who want to be Wang Shi.

 This dangerous business has crowded Everest with people who want to be Wang Shi.

5678 is a popular saying in mountaineering circles. It means that if you want to climb Mount Everest, you have to climb five kilometers, six kilometers, seven kilometers and eight kilometers in turn. But in the past two years, Song Yujiang found that more and more people had not climbed a snowy mountain, so they found a commercial exploration company and expressed their desire to climb Mount Everest. Song Yujiang, the owner of Dingfeng Exploration, spent six months a year on the mountain. From 2015, he began to lead the team to climb Mount Everest. In addition to Mt. Everest, his company also provides climbing services at high altitudes such as Mt. Manaslu (8163 meters). There are now 120 outdoor exploration companies in China.

Wang Shi, a famous entrepreneur, climbed Mount Everest in 2003, when he was 52 years old and became the oldest climber in China at that time. Ten years after Wang Shis ascent to the summit, it was also a decade when Chinese commercial mountaineering was increasingly erupting. Challenging Everest at the age of fifty or sixty is no longer a rarity. In recent years, there have even been 78-year-old and 79-year-old challengers on the southern slope of Mount Everest.

Wang Shi once said that Everest made him a topic figure in the crowd and took advantage of it in social occasions. The development of commercial mountain climbing is creating an opportunity for more and more ordinary people to experience Wang Shi in the crowd. Nowadays, there is a small group of people in the mountaineering circle who do not like to climb mountains, but just come to Mount Everest.

Business Rise

In the impression of Song Yujiang, domestic commercial mountain climbing really developed, probably around 2010. Previously, everyone knew that the total number of people who climbed all the mountains over 7000 meters in the industry did not exceed one or two hundred. Later, more and more new faces came in.

Song Yujiang estimates that more than 200 people climb mountains over 7,500 meters a year in China. These climbers were nurtured by commercial climbing activities. From 2003, Wang Shi climbed Mt. Everest to 2018, the mountain climber Shabaoyu successfully climbed Mt. Everest. The mountaineering events have also popularized the concept of outdoor and mountaineering for ordinary people. Instead of talking about mountaineering, a foreigner with a big bag jumps out of his mind.

In 2010, Song Yujiang had not set up a formal climbing company and was running an outdoor store in Xinjiang. It was his eighth year leading his team to climb Mt. Mustag (7509 meters above sea level). At first, he led a team of only 67 people. Later, he received thirty or forty people every year. Around 2010, he received more than one hundred people at most.

Song Yujiangs customer base has also changed. Earlier, some practitioners, such as the owners of outdoor equipment stores, who seek high altitude experience, mainly work needs, climbed the mountain with him. Some people learn mountaineering skills and organize their clients to climb mountains themselves to promote outdoor equipment sales.

Nowadays, the proportion of these customers in the customer group of Song Yujiang is getting smaller and smaller, and more and more ordinary enthusiasts and entrepreneurs begin to join. At present, half of the customers of Song Yujiang are entrepreneurs. He told China News Weekly, These entrepreneurs come to mountaineering basically with two ideas. They are very successful in life. They also want to find success on the other hand and prove their strength in other ways. In addition, they also want to use mountain climbing to enhance corporate culture.

However, Song Yujiang believes that the rumors in public opinion that these entrepreneurs are paid to be carried up the mountain are pure nonsense. According to his observation, this group is generally self-disciplined, strong physical fitness, mostly engaged in running, marathon, iron man before climbing, and also abide by the rules and discipline on the mountain, he will think you are an expert, listen to your opinion will not be wrong. In contrast, Song Yujiang believes that some other mountain climbing enthusiasts, who think they have the ability to go to the mountains, do not listen to the command, but more difficult to restrain.

It was in 1998 that Song Yujiang began to get in touch with mountain climbing. By chance, he climbed the Bogda Peak in Xinjiang with people from the Urumqi Mountaineering Association. At that time, there were few climbing activities organized by non-governmental organizations in China, and the equipment could not be bought. They collected a batch of old equipment from the National Association of Mountaineering. When they needed not enough ice claws and cones, they went to the local blacksmith to fight them.

After climbing Bogda Peak, Song Yujiang climbed Mustag Peak again in 2003. After that, some people paid money to lead Song Yujiang. He set up an outdoor store in Xinjiang, relying on outdoor stores and his own climbing experience, organized private businesses to climb Mustag Peak.

At that time, as long as there was a legal entity, mountain climbing could be organized without any permission. Part of the high altitude mountain climbing is done by the travel agency. Song Yujiang remembers that the cost of doing the Mustag Peak project by the travel agency at that time was 12,000 yuan, while Song Yujiang only charged 8,000 yuan. The average fee for Mustag Peak this year is 35,000 yuan. In fifteen years, it has nearly quintupled.

Song Yujiangs experience is the epitome of folk mountaineering in the 1990s. At that time, mountaineering at high altitude was mostly organized by amateur mountaineering associations or outdoor equipment operators in some places. Most of them were hobbies rather than commercial nature, and there were also many safety problems. The Animaqing accident in 1994 and the Yuzhufeng incident in 2000 killed two and five people respectively, which caused great social shock. Their organizers, Qiyun Exploration and K2 Summit, were well-known outdoor equipment companies at that time.

A Sherpa returned from the base camp of Everest with a large number of sleeping mats on his back. Picture/Visual China

With the germination of folk mountaineering activities, national policies have been established one after another. In 1997, the State Sports Commission promulgated the Measures for the Administration of Mountaineering in China. At the beginning of 2000, the National Sports Commission held a seminar of historic significance to adjust the development strategy of Chinas mountaineering industry. From this, mountain exploration gradually explored the way of socialization and commercialization.

In 1999, famous climbers Wang Yongfeng and Ma Xinxiang took the lead in carrying out two mountain climbing activities of Yuzhufeng in Qinghai with commercial nature and at their own expense. In the same year, the Tibetan Mountaineering School was established.

Song Yujiang told China News Weekly that at present, if a company wants to engage in mountaineering exploration business, it must first register as a company legal person of mountaineering service company or sports organization whose business scope includes mountaineering exploration activities. Climbing a mountain above 5000 meters requires one months approval in advance, and climbing a mountain above 7000 meters. Special approval should be applied to the State General Administration of Sports three months in advance. It needs to be initiated by a company with legal personality (climbing company), with two or more members, and has participated in mountaineering knowledge and skills training organized by mountaineering associations at or above the provincial level.

The National Sports Commission has different requirements for different difficult peaks. It is not difficult for the mountain to have a professional coach among the five people. The 7,500-metre peak requires a professional coach among the three. Nepal asked everyone to invite a Sherpa. Song Yujiang concluded.

Grey space

In 2001, Tibet Shengshan Exploration Company was established, which is a brand new commercial operation mode of mountain exploration in China. This company is the predecessor of the present Yala Shanbo Mountain Adventure Company in Tibet. Nowadays, Yala Shampoo is the only company qualified to organize the climb from the north slope of Mount Everest. All those who want to climb the northern slope of Mount Everest in China have to follow the company to climb a 8,000-metre mountain in the previous year before they can start climbing it in the next year.

Yala Shampoo opened only 16 places in the Everest Climbing in 2019. The price of Yala Shampoo Everest Project is also very high. This year, the project is quoted at 459,000 yuan per person.

On May 27, the Nepalese Cleaning Team cleared 10 tons of garbage from Mount Everest. Figure /IC

Fifty or sixty of Chinas Mount Everest climbers this year started from the southern slope of Nepal, while only 12 from the northern slope. At present, in addition to Yala Shampoo Company, other Chinese commercial mountain climbing companies carry out Qomolangma climbing projects from the southern slope of Qomolangma in Nepal.

Song Yujiang told China News Weekly that in order to protect Nepals mountaineering industry, foreigners are not allowed to engage in this business. Nepalese law also does not allow foreigners or enterprises to establish sole or joint venture mountaineering companies in Nepal. This has led to all outdoor companies in China having to cooperate with Nepals local mountain climbing companies. This so-called form of cooperation is not legally guaranteed in Nepal. For example, in Song Yujiang, Nepals mountaineering company is like a company accompanying a tourist destination when traveling abroad.

Chinas team guides can only travel to Mount Everest as ordinary tourists, who, like their clients, have to pay $11,000 for a mountain climbing license. Limited by the current situation, in order to reduce costs, Chinas mountaineering teams usually have a leader, one or two Chinese guides, and employ a large number of Nepalese local guides, known as Sherpas.

Over the past two years, Sherpas in Nepal began to take the initiative to find the Chinese market. They advertised themselves in various ways and contacted Chinese customers by Wechat. The owner of Nepals largest mountain climbing company, Qifeng Company and senior Sherpa guide Mingma, often interviewed Chinese mountaineering media. Song Yujiang estimates that at present, about one-tenth of Chinese mountaineering customers will choose to sign direct contracts with Nepalese mountaineering companies, which will save them $10,000.

However, the safety of Nepal Mountain Company has been questioned repeatedly in recent years. This years first death in the Himalayas in spring was caused by a Malaysian Chinese doctor surnamed Chen, who was a client of Qifeng Company. The day after Dr. Chen was declared missing by Qifeng Company, the helicopter saw him on the side of the mountain. He waved to the helicopter in the snow. On the third day, he was rescued by the helicopter, but he died in the hospital.

Song Yujiang once worked with Qifeng Company. Last spring, he decided to work with another company instead. Mainly different ideas. He told China News Weekly, They think its normal that there are deaths in mountain climbing accidents.

Song Yujiangs Dingfeng Exploration Company paid $46,000 this year to climb Everest, including transportation from Kathmandu to and from Kathmandu, helicopters, logistics services, Sherpa guides, and various equipment at mountain camps, but excluding possible rescue or transportation costs. Exploration companies will sign exemption agreements with climbers before going up the mountain. If it is not for negligence, but for natural disasters such as avalanches, the exploration companies will not bear other responsibilities. Song Yujiang said.

According to Song Yujiangs observation, Indians now account for almost half of the annual deaths in Mount Everest. This year his Nepalese cooperative Asiantrek took over customers from the Indian Alpine Army, while Qifeng took over some Indian police customers. Compared with ordinary business users, these customers tend to camp, move and hire very few guides themselves, and because they do not receive good professional training in mountain climbing, they have a higher probability of accidents.

At 3 a.m. on May 22, two teams marched in the Kunbu Iceberg, preparing to pass through the dangerous area before the sun shone on the glacier. Photography/Rocker

This year another 62-year-old American died of a heart attack on a mountain. Song Yujiang told reporters that the Nepalese government has no restrictions on the age of mountain climbing. Although the Nepalese cooperation company has told him that the medical examination report does not necessarily require a hospital seal, as long as the doctor writes a note fit for climbing Mount Everest, he can sign it.

We dont want to be always in a state of illegality either. Song Yujiang feels that the current cooperation between China Exploration Company and Nepal Mountaineering Company belongs to the edge ball. To this end, he has just registered a joint venture with Nepalese mountaineering company in China. Although the business is still in Nepal, Song Yujiang is not sure whether this approach can solve the local legitimacy of the company in Nepal, but it is always formal. He feels that, after all, the establishment of a joint venture in China can restrict Nepals partners, and in the future, if there are accidents and rescue efforts, it may be guaranteed.

Source: Gu Yunting_NBJS8499, Responsible Editor of China Newsweek