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China to deploy theft patrol on Everest

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 31, 2007
A Chinese mountaineering official will have the unenviable task of trying to prevent robberies on the roof of the world after a spate of equipment thefts, officials said Wednesday.

The official will be deployed at a breathtaking altitude of 6,600 metres (21,780 feet) after a record season this year saw 520 people reaching Mount Everest's 8,848-metre summit but also complaints of stealing.

"Expedition activities have been going on for some years and we want to impose stricter management... to prevent these kinds of things from happening," said an official at the China Tibet Mountaineering Association surnamed Zhang.

Zhang sought to play down the extent of the thefts, saying there were many occasions where people had only "mistakenly taken other people's properties."

"(But) we have to make our best efforts to go up there to investigate."

During this year's climbing season, expedition teams complained about losing equipment such as oxygen bottles, food and cooking gas, with high-climbing thieves blamed.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told AFP the Chinese authorities had agreed to mobilise a liaison officer at the Advanced Base Camp from next spring season in 2008.

"Last spring season we received four reports of theft above the base camp on the Tibetan side but we couldn't do anything," he said.

The Chinese official will have the power to investigate complaints of theft and even search those accused of stealing, Sherpa said. Zhang declined to elaborate but said cases of thefts would be reported to Chinese police.

Everest can be tackled from a southern approach from Nepal and a northern route from Tibet.

Thefts have not been reported on the southern Nepali route, so there were no plans to place security officials there, Sherpa said.


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