Pro-Tibet American activist barred from Everest

William Brant Holland faces climbing ban after security men find banners in his bag

Kathmandu, April 23:

Authorities here forced an American mountaineer caught with a “Free Tibet” banner to end

his Mount Everest climb about a week before a planned ascent by Chinese climbers carrying

the Olympic torch, officials here said today.

The climber was caught with the banner in his bags at the Everest base camp, said officials at the Tourism Ministry.

Kathmandu-based company Himalayan Guides Treks and Expeditions, which got the permit for the climber, identified him as William Brant Holland from the US but was unable to give more details such as his hometown or age.

Umid Bhandari of the expedition company said it had issued Holland a last-minute permit to climb Everest.

The government issued a notice to the agency seeking clarification on the incident, Bhandari said.

It was not clear what the government would do about Holland’s case once he returned to


Officials said he would probably be banned from taking part in any mountaineering expeditions in Nepal for the next few years.

Holland was the first mountaineer to be stopped by security personnel stationed on Nepal’s side of the world’s highest mountain to prevent anti-China protests during the planned torch run to the summit.

The climb, expected to start some time next week, will take place on the Chinese side

of the mountain.

The torch relay — the longest in Olympic history — was meant to highlight China’s rising economic and political power.

But activists have seized on it as a platform to protest China’s human rights record in Tibet, following a crackdown on demonstrations against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region in March.

There are already dozens of mountaineers on Everest for the popular spring climbing

season. Climbers spend weeks acclimatising before attempting to reach the summit.

They will be barred from going above Camp 2 at 6,500 metres until the Chinese finish their torch run. The harsh weather on Everest usually allows only two windows of time in May — anywhere from a couple of days to a week — when conditions are favourable enough for the push to the summit.

Tibetan exiles have been protesting in Kathmandu and in front of the United Nations Office in Lalitpur almost daily to pressure China to end its “crackdown on Tibet”.

Yesterday only a group of Tibetan protesters barged into the tightly guarded UN compound at for the second time during their two-month-long protest.