It reads like the idealisation of tourism. Enthusiastic, intrepid traveller goes to an impoverished state marred by natural disaster to encourage currency, consumption and travel. In this sense, it is a global phenomenon, involving a good deal of hustling, and a good deal of moralising, about preventing a supposedly bad deal from going worse. The locals are treated as desperate for the money; the tourist, for the daredevil sightseeing.
Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is one such figure, setting out to be the first to make the summit of Everest since the disastrous April earthquake that cut, and here, the emphasis is important, the climbing season short. “Nepal’s tourism minister, Kripasur Sherpa, gave Kuriki his climbing permit at a ceremony in Kathmandu on Sunday.”
That such an event needed a ceremony suggests sacralisation on the one hand, edification on the other. But much of it is plainly material, rooted in Mammon’s temptation and tourism’s allure – each Everest climbing permit costs $11,000, in addition to a range of other government levies. These go into the coffers of the tourist ministry, and various private hands.
Kuriki is also keen to remind his audience that his climb is not self-centred bravado, a narcissistic binge that will involve sherpas and a Japanese film crew. He really is, so goes the suggestion, risking his neck for the betterment of Nepal. “The main purpose of my climb is to spread the message that Nepal was safe for climbers and trekkers even after the earthquake.”