While virtually everyone in the world knows what Mount Everest is, only a very small percentage of people have actually climbed it. Most of us would rather stuff buttered popcorn into our faces as we watch Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal do it. Soon, though, the feat may be more accessible to more people.
There are two main basecamps to start your journey up the world’s highest mountain. There's the northern slope in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the southern slope in Nepal. The Tibet basecamp, known as Gangkar, has historically been the more restricted one, but a $14.7 million development will soon be changing that. According to a report by ChinaDaily, the Chinese government has plans to build a mountaineering museum, a hotel, a helicopter rescue base, restaurants, and rental and repair centers for cars, motorcycles, and bikes. The entire mountaineering centre is expected to open in 2019.
While this is good news for aspiring climbers and adventurous vacationers, we can’t help but be a little worried. A huge project like this could end up turning one of the world’s most intense and challenging experiences into a casual tourist attraction for the type of person that only wants to show off their new North Face jacket. You know, rich people who don't even climb.
We have to wonder what a development like this will do to the local community too. On one hand, it could cause inflations of rent and real estate prices and drive out locals. On the other hand, it could introduce more jobs and bring in more money for the community. At this point it’s hard to tell, but there's no denying it's big news either way.