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Inside China’s Plans to Commercialize Mount Everest

Nature By
Sunset light over the majestic peak of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, as seen on top of Gokyo Ri, by Gokyo village in Sagarmatha National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Khumbu region, Solukhumbu district, eastern Nepal, Asia.
Sunset light over the majestic peak of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, as seen on top of Gokyo Ri, by Gokyo village in Sagarmatha National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Khumbu region, Solukhumbu district, eastern Nepal, Asia. (Getty Images)

 

Once, just successfully climbing Mount Everest was an unthinkable achievement. (Indeed, to this day that feat remains extremely dangerous and often fatal.) Which makes China’s plans for it all the more audacious. Last year saw China open a paved road that goes 14,000 feet up Everest. (Everest stands just over 29,000 feet.) They’re also planning an international mountaineering center with hotels, restaurants, training facilities, search-and-rescue services, and a museum.

The result will likely be that the northern Tibetan side that China controls becomes more and more developed, while the southern Nepalese side remains “rugged.” Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022, and China is striving in general to construct more facilities for winter sports. (These plans include 650 “skating gyms” and 800 ski resorts.)

The upside to all this construction? Visiting Mount Everest will be safer and more tourist-friendly. That said, one of the few largely untouched parts of the world is about to become a lot more touchable. For those who want to keep Mount Everest as natural (and often dangerous) as possible, the development can only be viewed as a disappointment.

To read more about China’s strategy to transform the Tibetan side of Everest, click here. Watch the video below to learn about China’s potential plans for a high-speed train under Mount Everest.