Letter: Everest politics

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The Independent Online
Sir: I fully agree with Ed Douglas's opposition to the Chinese occupation of Tibet ("Everest climbers urged to join Tibet boycott", 26 November). It is also grossly unfair that most of the money spent by expeditions to climb Everest goes into government coffers rather than to the local communities, whether that be in Nepal or Tibet.

However, calling for a boycott of the mountain will remove a major source of income from the Sherpa villages that supply porters to climbing expeditions, thus damaging these communities. While some commercial expeditions do exploit these people, there are companies which don't: co-operatives which pay them fairly.

An example of climbers helping these remote regions is the Himalayan Trust, created by Edmund Hillary, which has helped to build schools and medical centres and to rebuild the Thyangboche monastery after a fire in 1989.

Most of the climbers I know are not complacent about the Tibet issue and do oppose the Chinese occupation. Boycotting the mountain will not make the Chinese leave, but may well cut off a valuable source of income for the local peoples and stop one of the groups best placed to publicise the effects of the invasion from doing so.

PETE JOHNSON

Cambridge

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