Nepal | September 27, 2020

Climbers recreating NASA study ski on Mt Everest illegally!

Making ‘a 10-year-old dream’ come true may cost American climbers dear

Rajan Pokhrel
Share Now:

(Left) A Facebook post by Willie Benegas and Matt Moniz after skiing from Camp III to Camp II on Mt Everest; Willie and Matt at Camp I after dropping their skis. Photos courtesy: Benegas Brothers Expeditions/Facebook

Kathmandu, May 6

Two American climbers who were part of a twin study research of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, made an illegal ski descent from Camp III to Camp II on Mt Everest last week, officials at the Department of Tourism said.

Willie Benegas and Matt Moniz reportedly skied down from 7,200m to 6,400m on May 2 without obtaining a ski permit from government authorities, Ram Prasad Sapkota, director at the DoT, told THT after receiving the information from Everest base camp. “The duo only obtained Everest climbing permit,” Sapkota said, adding that their ski attempt was illegal.

a screenshot taken from the Facebook posts of Willie Benegas.

After making a successful ski descent on the Lhotse face from Camp III, the climbers posted on Facebook, “We did it!” The Benegas Brothers Expeditions run by Willie Benegas also announced: “Well after 10 years dreaming about it, it happen (sic)! Managed to ski from Camp 3 Everest 7,200 meters to Camp 2 6,400m. Not much of difficulty but definitely good eyes needed to read the terrain, catching a ice-patch (sic) will be a bad thing to happen!”

DoT officials said they summoned representatives of the High Altitude Dream Pvt Ltd, a local agency which is handling Benegas Brothers Expeditions, to clarify about the climbers’ illegal descent on the world’s highest peak. “The agency representatives briefed us this afternoon that they were unaware of the incident,” Sapkota said.

According to him, climbers shall pay US$1,000 as royalty to obtain ski permit while the ski team must have a liaison officer to monitor their activities in the mountains. “The ski team also needs to deposit US$500 as garbage management fee at the DoT,” he said.

The DoT will initiate legal action against the climbers after a thorough investigation, Sapkota said. “Conducting illegal activities on mountains will land these climbers in soup,” he added. According to the country’s Mountaineering Expedition regulation, the government may ban a mountaineering expedition team or its member(s) from entering Nepal for up to five years or bar them from mountaineering in Nepal for up to 10 years for violating provisions of the act or rules framed thereunder or conditions specified in the permit.

Talking to THT, Kili Sherpa, managing director at High Altitude Dream Pvt Ltd, claimed that the climbers kept his company in the dark about their plan to ski on Mt Everest.

The climbers were at the base camp after making acclimatisation rotations in the high camps, a base camp official told THT over phone.

The two climbers plan to conduct molecular research on Mt Everest as part of the twin study project under the NASA. “Not just climbing, during the ascent, we’ll be collecting samples for a first of its kind genomic research project,” Moniz, who became the 14th American and youngest climber to summit Mt Makalu, having reached the top only seven days after scaling Mt Cho Oyu, told THT last month.


A version of this article appears in print on May 07, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

consumer price inflation slows to 3.49pc

KATHMANDU: The year-on-year consumer price inflation stood at 3.49 per cent in mid-August 2020 compared to 6.95 per cent a year ago reveals the central bank’s Macroeconomic Update report unveiled on Friday. Food and beverage inflation stood at 5.38 per cent whereas non-food and service inflatio Read More...

BPKIHS confirms another death from COVID-19 on Saturday

DHARAN: BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan has confirmed another death due to Covid-19, on Saturday. The 63-year-old man from Rajbiraj Municipality-3 in Saptari district died at 1:15 am during the course of treatment, according to Dr Nidesh Sapkota at the hospital. He said the eld Read More...

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 32.46 million, death toll over 985,000

At least 32,467,949 people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 985,007 people have died, a Reuters tally showed. India reported 86,052 new coronavirus cases on Friday and was set to overtake the United States by next month as the world's worst-affected na Read More...

1,207 new cases take Nepal’s coronavirus tally to 71,821 on Saturday

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s coronavirus tally moved to 71,821 as 1,207 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours. As many as 1,147 people that had earlier contracted Covid-19 tested negative for the infection as per the Ministry’s latest data. So far, 53,013 people have recovered from the dise Read More...

Eight Covid-19 fatalities registered on Saturday, death toll advances to 467

KATHMANDU: Eight more individuals diagnosed with coronavirus infection have succumbed to the disease, the Ministry of Health and Population confirmed at its regular media briefing on Saturday. All of those reported dead were males. Details of the deceased individuals 66-year-old male, Sap Read More...

Dhangadhi Sub-metropolis continues providing free food to returnees from India

DHANGADHI: Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City has been providing food and hygiene kits free of cost to Nepalis returning home from India via Trinagar border checkpoint since March. The Sub-metropolis has been providing food for Nepalis who are tired after a long journey from India since the time Read More...

Nepal COVID-19 Update: 1207 new cases, 1147 recoveries, eight fatalities recorded Saturday

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry, in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates on coronavirus contagion from across the country, and government’s response to the health crisis. As of today, 978,204 tests through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method have been carried where Read More...

Bajura's Himali Rural Municipality opens rafting in Karnali River

BAJURA: Himali Rural Municipality of hilly Bajura district has started the operation of rafting in Karnali River targeting domestic and international tourists. According to ward chair Gobindra Bahadur Malla, the Rural Municipality has started operating rafting from Dhulachaur to Piluchaur for Read More...