British mountaineer barred from Nepal after fight with fellow climber

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The Independent Online

A British mountain climber has been barred from entering Nepal after he was accused of attacking a fellow expedition member.

A British mountain climber has been barred from entering Nepal after he was accused of attacking a fellow expedition member.

The culture ministry in Kathmandu announced yesterday that Henry Todd had been found guilty of violating the tourism act and was forbidden from entering the country until 2002.

The 54-year-old Edinburgh-based mountaineer was accused of lashing out at US journalist Finn Olaf Jones after he discovered the latter was sending unfavourable dispatches back from his expedition. Mr Jones insisted on being airlifted from the Everest base camp at 18,000 feet after the alleged attack, claiming he was too terrified to continue.

The American reporter said: "It wasn't your typical mountaineering injury that ended my Everest dream - it was a fist."

The row erupted after the team leader discovered the American was sending reports to the Discovery TV Channel website referring to him as "an Everest caterer" who "had never even been to the summit".

He also wrote that "everyone climbing on Todd's permit is climbing independently and we're not really a team".

Mr Todd, a renowned Scottish climber whose company Himalayan Guides organises commercial trips up the world's highest peak, had been leading the team up the South West Ridge route last spring when he was said to have chased Mr Jones through the camp and shaken him violently.

The reporter stumbled and hurt himself, although witnesses could not agree whether the expedition leader actually hit the journalist.

Although the American escaped with cuts and bruises, he fled to another expedition's camp, where he insisted on hiding for two nights. After doctors at base camp failed to endorse his airlift as a medical emergency he was forced to charter a £2,400 helicopter to fly him to Kathmandu. Mr Jones subsequently filed a formal police complaint against Mr Todd.

Yesterday the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation issued a statement explaining that the Scotsman, leader of the HG Everest Expedition 2000, had been banned from entering Nepal.

"It is proved that Henry B Todd was found guilty of violating the tourism act - 1976," it said.

Last night Mr Todd was unavailable for comment.

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