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One South African’s Illegal Summit of Mount Everest is Cut Short

Imagine climbing Mount Everest solo. One South African attempted to take on the 8,848m (rising to 29,028 foot) peak alone and at that, illegally.

In what he described as a ‘soul searching’ venture, Ryan Sean Davy was caught without a climbing permit by authorities who seized his passport and now faces a fine of $22,000, double the cost foreigners have to pay the Nepal government for permission to climb Everest.

Several foreigners scale Everest with the help of at least one Sherpa guide and a large support team at base camp so, it is highly unusual to find a foreigner taking on the peak alone.

But doing it illegally, warrants arrest, a 10-year ban for violating the country’s mountaineer regulations, as well as a fine three-times that of the royalty amount.

And then you would think anyone new to the terrain, found unusually climbing the Himalayans peak, would surrender at first sight. Instead, the South African attempted to run away and hide from officials. Unsuccessfully.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I saw him alone near base camp so I approached him and he ran away,”[/perfectpullquote]

Gyanendra Shresth, the government liaison officer at the base camp told AFP.

“I followed him with my friend and found him hiding in a cave nearby. He had set up camp in an isolated place to avoid government officials.”

According to The Himalayans Times, Davy had obtained a Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS) card on March 19 from the Nepal Tourism Board but was not issued a climbing permit for Everest.

The card, however, neither grants the 43-year-old access above base camp nor permission to “fix a camp for acclimatization”. Nevertheless, this was not going to deter Davy – who identifies himself as a director and producer.

“When I heard that most of the expeditions on Everest had retreated to base camp because of incoming weather, I made my move,” a post on Davy’s Facebook page read.

And yet, the self-proclaimed director and producer did not have the required amount for a solo permit but in his defense, backed by an apology asking for forgiveness, he wrote in another post, “This news is probably going to make a lot of people upset with me and I really hope you’ll all forgive me.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I’m willing to be as accountable as I know how but my Everest expedition has taken a very bad turn.[/perfectpullquote]

“I am going, to be honest in saying that when I arrived at Base Camp, it became evident that I didn’t have nearly enough money for a solo permit because of hidden costs and even if I did, they would have declined because I had no previous mountaineering experience on record.

“I was ashamed that I couldn’t afford the permit after all the help, preparation, and what everybody had done for me during my training; it would have been a total embarrassment to turn around and accept defeat because of a piece of paper.

“So I took a chance and spent the little money I had on more gear to climb and practice on the surrounding peaks for acclimatizing in preparing for a stealth entry into Everest.”

In his Facebook post, the South African claims to have climbed over 6,000m (20,000 feet) within Camp 2 range peaked at 6,400m (21,000 feet).

The lengths Davy went through to try and make the climb stem from a deeper conviction.

According to Traveller24, he was on “a mission to find his life’s purpose by summiting the world’s highest peak” before “they build a staircase all the way to the top”.

He outlined his reasons in a blog saying, “I had reached a pretty low point in my life. For 10 years I had plowed all my finances and resources into 2 full length feature films, none of which had gotten the result I had hoped for. It was time to re-look at my life and reassess my goals.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”This was not a ‘giving up’ strategy or a plea for self-pity, it was too late for either. This was just a way of me trying to find another approach because something had to be done and it had to be done fast.”[/perfectpullquote]

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 1.10.16 PM


Regardless of the outcome, Davy’s experience was worth every second of his life. Being in close proximity to Everest while training on a surrounding peak was more nerve wrecking than getting caught. But he will never forget “the magical Khumba Ice Falls”.

“I had a sheer drop on either side of me clinging on for dear life on a knife-edged glacier. I knew if I panicked I would have most certainly been in trouble. I could not reverse since I couldn’t see where to place my crampon. So there was only one way and that was up,” Davy told Traveller24.

“It was scary for me since I had never been in that kind of situation before on a mountain and I knew if I fell, I was all alone and no one even knew I was there.

“I descended the mountain but within minutes I had taken a fall. I started tumbling down the glaciers slope. I was a bit battered and bruised up. I was alive and mobile.”

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“It is a maze of magnificent shapes and figures that tower above the climber’s path as if granting passage into a gateway of Fantasia.[/perfectpullquote]

“I simply could not stop photographing and filming every shape and crevice like it was showcasing itself knowing of my intentions on the mountain, I have never felt safer in all my life.

“The authorities can take away my freedom but they can never take away that experience. It’s imprinted into my soul forever.  I pretty much had the entire Ice Falls to myself which made it even more magical”.

On May 26, 2003, Sibusiso Vilane, made history as the first black African to summit Mount Everest and reach the highest peak in the world. More or less, the 32-year-old South African stood on top of the world.



Featured photo: Facebook

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