“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 onto Everest.”
Davy wrote that he had hoped to “help anyone who might have been in trouble since every year there are so many fatalities.” Instead, he was caught. “Expedition companies have no time for wanna be Everesters with no money so someone turned me in,” he wrote. “I was harassed at base camp to a point that I honestly thought I was going to get stoned to death right there. I’m not even exaggerating. I was treated like a murderer. A true testimony of how money has become more important than decency.”
Everest expeditions are not for the faint of heart or the empty of wallet. The country earns about $4.5 million on Everest permits alone. It can cost from $25,000 to $75,000, depending on how much comfort, oxygen and assistance a climber requires.
So it’s no wonder Davy might have been tempted to climb the 29,029-foot peak on the cheap.
“I saw him alone near Base Camp so I approached him and he ran away,” Gyanendra Shresth, a government liaison officer at the camp, told Agence France-Presse. “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.”
The brief window in which windy and snowy conditions subside enough to allow adventurers to climb Everest adds an element of frenzy to the climbers’ quest. This year, the government has issued 371 permits, the most since 1953, and that number grows to 800 or so when the Sherpas who will guide and help them summit are included. At Base Camp, it’s about 1,500 people when staff and medical personnel are included. That exploding population in such a hostile environment has created what Tim Mosedale, who has reached the summit five times, wrote was a potential “toxic mix” in a Facebook post on April 27. Officials told The Post earlier this month that they expected “traffic jam”-like conditions during the “three to four good days with appropriate weather” on the slopes.
The chaos and conditions can lead to bogus claims, too. Last year, an Indian couple who faked photos of themselves atop the mountain was banned from Nepal. Against that backdrop, it can be easy to forget that the Everest season often claims lives and this season already is no exception. Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck died in a fall last month near Everest and an 85-year-old man who was seeking to become the oldest to reach the summit died last week at Base Camp. The death of Min Bahadur Sherchan has led Nepal officials to again consider whether they should institute an upper-age limit of 75 on climbers, who must be at least 16 to climb from the Nepal side.
The consequences for Davy, a Johannesburg man whose Facebook page says he is a director and producer at Controversial Entertainment, may include jail time, he writes, in addition to a $22,000 fine. He was unavailable for further comment and his Facebook page could not immediately be authenticated. Photos on his page seem to show a climber at the Khumbu Icefall between Base Camp and the next highest camp. His Instagram posts show him preparing for the Everest climb.
Davy’s passport was seized and it was unclear how he would get from Everest to Kathmandu. He wrote that he planned to walk and take a bus. He writes that he may also face jail time, but discouraged people from contributing money to helping him.
“To all my close friends and family who I know will want to jump in and rescue me by paying the exorbitant 5 digit $ fines or bail fees, please I beg you, Do not!” he wrote “This was my doing and I took the risks, I am accountable. I would feel really really bad if someone baled [sic] me out for something I did on my own accord. This will pass as everything else does in life and I will return for a second attempt! I love all those who have loved and supported me, you know who you are.”