China/Tibet: Response from the Alpine Club

Response from the Alpine Club to the Open Letter about Mountaineering in China

Dear Richard Haley,

Thank you for your letter e-mailed to me on 6th October. I apologise for the delay in replying but I have been away mountaineering in West Nepal on the border with Tibet. An excellent trip I am pleased to say with post monsoon conditions being particularly good this year.

As regards the symposium taking place later this month I agree entirely with what you say about the Chinese re-drawing the borders of Tibet but please bear in mind that the Alpine Club is a mountaineering Club and the focus of our interest is mountaineering. The current position is that it is extremely difficult (and extremely expensive) for mountaineers to secure permission to climb the mountains in what the Chinese regard as Tibet. However, areas which were historically in Tibet but are now outside what the Chinese regard as Tibet are increasingly accessible and therefore increasingly of interest to mountaineers. As mountaineers we saw little point in holding a symposium focusing on areas which are inaccessible to most people and hence ended up with the 'China outside Tibet' heading.

The above said, much as the Alpine Club is not a political club, mountaineers are not blind to politics and those operating in the areas in question tend to be very much aware of political developments and how they are affecting the Tibetan population. I will be introducing the symposium and one of the issues I will be drawing attention to is the shrinking size of Tibet (in Chinese eyes) which has resulted in these areas historically in Tibet being subsumed into other provinces and therefore subjected to different rules and regulations than areas within what the Chinese now regard as Tibet.

To summarise then I acknowledge the points that you make and assure you that the impact of the Chinese changing the borders of Tibet will be a theme that will surface several times at least during the day.

Yours sincerely
Mick Fowler


Email from Richard Haley to Mick Fowler: "Just to be clear, are you saying that you think that Mount Edgar and Siguniang can be said to be in 'China outside Tibet' ?"

Email from Mick Fowler to Richard Haley: "For the purposes of the symposium we are including these areas because it is possible to climb there without seeking expensive and bureaucratic approval from the China Tibet Mountaineering Association in Lhasa."