Message from the Expedition Chairman - Brigadier (Retd). Ian Rigden OBE
As you will all be aware, the Nepalese Government recently issued a ban on all blind, double-amputee and solo climbers attempting Mt. Everest. This is a very recent decision and, in light of several other later Government communiques, there is a lack of clarity on what this actually means in practice. Due to this uncertainty, and the very real possibility that we will not get a permit for Hari this year, we have made the decision to postpone the expedition until 2019, subject to clarification of the rules.
This will enable us to conduct further planning, more detailed training for Hari (you can never have enough high-altitude experience) both in and outside Nepal, and provide us with the opportunity to work with the Nepalese Government and Mountaineering Association to clarify the rules for all climbers in the future.
While we firmly believe that it is the right of the Nepalese Government to place greater control, and care and consideration for climbers on Mt. Everest, particularly their safety, the new rules do not take into account the actual climbing ability of the mountaineers. There are disabled and blind climbers who have the depth of experience and knowledge to make a successful ascent of Everest and are supported by experienced teams. They should not be barred for their physical disability but, in line with all potential climbers should be assessed on their actual mountaineering ability.
The Government in seeking to protect them, as well as other climbers, has unwittingly taken away their opportunity to succeed despite their disability and gain pride in that achievement. This does not mean that everyone has the right to climb Everest; that right has to be earned like everything else in life, which is why we are spending a lot of time training Hari to be ready. He is earning that right through his hard work and dedication.
We concur that only those who are properly prepared should be allowed to do so, but no distinction should be made between fully able-bodied or disabled climbers. It is the quality of the individual’s preparation, training and readiness which should be the defining criteria. Defining these criteria is what we intend to discuss with the Nepalese Government and Mountaineering Association and help them come up with the optimal solution during 2018.
The Conquering Dreams team consists of an international coalition of military veterans and medical advisors who remain committed to support Hari’s dream of climbing Mt Everest. The mission of the expedition remains the same: to place the first double above knee amputee on the summit of Mt. Everest. We will pursue this for as long as it takes.
In the meantime, we will continue to work with both the Nepalese government and our sponsors to work for clarification on the rules and continue training throughout 2018 in anticipation of a climbing permit for a 2019 summit attempt of Mt Everest. We are very grateful for your continued support. We all firmly believe that nothing is impossible. Please help us to continue to make Hari's dream come true, but also to help him continue to be an inspiration for disabled people in Nepal and worldwide.