The international border between Nepal and Chinese-controlled Tibet runs through Mount Everest, which is reportedly getting crowded due to the large number of climbers (who mainly ascend the Nepali side).

Have there been problems with climbers (accidentally) crossing into the Chinese-controlled summit area or (deliberately) making the more difficult descent down the Chinese side without a visa? If one wishes to cross between countries at this point, is it possible to do so legally?

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    You know you've really annoyed someone in the Party to find yourself posted on border guard duty there.
    – zeocrash
    Sep 25, 2018 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


There is a very limited number of border crossings between Tibet and Nepal where foreigners are allowed to cross. In fact I think that there are at the moment only two: Hilsa and Kyirong. For Chinese or Nepali there are a few more, but the summit of Mount Everest is not one of them.

If you cross the border at Mount Everest, or any other illegal spot, you can face heavy fines, bans from the country or even prison time. It might also have repercussion on other climbers or trekkers.

It has been done before. In 2017 the Polish climber Janusz Adam Adamski crossed from China into Nepal. From the Nepali, he was hit with a fine of 22000USD and a 10-year ban to climbing in Nepal. The Chinese didn't immediately punish him personally (probably because they couldn't do much as he was in Nepal), but basically closed all of Tibet for all foreign climbers. It is clear that this is one of the most efficient ways of making yourself an absolute pariah in the climbing community.

Tl;dr: don't even think about doing it

In the past: It used to be possible to obtain permits to make the crossing. 34 of such crossings by 32 climbers had taken place. However, in 2010 China started to refuse all permits for a crossing. If in the future the Chinese decide to issue permits for crossings, it would be possible again.

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    People have traversed Everest from one side to the other; there have been about 30 such climbs according to Alan Arnette's website, and at least one company is offering traverse expeditions in both directions in 2019. Presumably, though, the successful traverses (other than Adamski's) have been done with the knowledge of both governments, along with the appropriate fees for permits and visas. Sep 25, 2018 at 16:45
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    "If you cross the border at Mount Everest, or any other illegal spot, you can face heavy fines, bans from the country or even prison time." Do you only mean if you descend on the other side? Or do you mean also if you cross the invisible line that goes through the middle of the summit? If the latter, then it seems that people have to be really careful when they reach the summit, because it's not necessarily obvious where the line is.
    – user102008
    Sep 25, 2018 at 18:21
  • @MichaelSeifert I've added a section with the historical information. Thanks for that. I don't mention the 2019 offer because my confidence in that kind of announcements is extremely limited. First I'd like to see that they actually get the permits. Sep 26, 2018 at 4:14
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    Shows that China not only cared about sanctioning this climber but also about defending its image given the sequela that went far beyond just the one climber alone that was mentioned. So yeah, not only is it scrappy, but you inconvenience everyone else . While that wouldn't happen for, say, an illegal US-Canada or US-Mexico crossing, it does happen for China, apparently - different culture, different rules and norms and that's their sovereign right and despite some Americans' fantasies otherwise, Tibet is absolutely legal sovereign territory of China. Sep 26, 2018 at 7:37
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    @user102008 : I'd imagine that in theory yes, since a border is not defined as having a "width". But on the other hand, unless it's buzzing with sensors up there (which would make the border conspicuous unless they're sickly trying to trap people and not warn them), I doubt anyone would notice if your crossed by 1 mm across the line for 1 s of time even though "technically" it'd still be illegal. Since the article suggests Adamski "made a traverse" because he wanted to break the rules, it sounds like he went a "little" further than that. Sep 26, 2018 at 7:38

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