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In Bhutan, it is illegal to climb any mountain higher than 6000m, but what is stopping anyone from doing it anyway, and how likely is it that you would be found out?

I cannot imagine it is feasible to protect the mountains with a fence, or guards, and a person would be nearly impossible to spot on a mountain at a distance, so what is the mechanism for enforcement of this law?

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    I’m voting to close this question because we don't give advice or support in breaking laws or regulations – Hilmar Dec 25 '20 at 18:49
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    @Hilmar I'm not condoning breaking any laws, only merely a conversation point about how this law is actually enforced. – James Hyde Dec 25 '20 at 18:51
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    A short trip up a 6000m mountain?? Even if it's a walk-up mountain like Kilimanjaro 6000m requires acclimatization. You're just going to disappear for some days to do it? – Loren Pechtel Dec 25 '20 at 22:57
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    WP has information that I felt like I needed after reading the question: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangkhar_Puensum The prohibition is religious. The mountain lies near the border between Tibet (Chinese control) and Bhutan. The summit is believed to be inside Bhutan. A 1998 attempt to climb it from the Chinese side had its permission withdrawn by the Chinese authorities because of the political issues. – Ben Crowell Dec 26 '20 at 15:33
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    Given the difficulty of climbing a 6,000m mountain and the fact that nobody is likely to provide a step-by-step guide to evading the authorities here, this seems more like a question about how the law works than a question about advice on how to break the law. Similarly, we have questions about how ticket inspections work on transit systems, but wouldn't permit a guide to jumping turnstiles. – Zach Lipton Dec 27 '20 at 0:42
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I don't have any specific insights into how it's enforced on the ground but it doesn't seem particularly difficult.

You cannot climb a mountain like that in a few hours or on your own. Even assuming you're a specialist and don't want to rely on local help (i.e. you're eshewing the “expedition style” climbing that's typical of the Himalayas), you would need special equipment, which can easily be detected at the border or somewhere on the way.

As most mountains in the Himalayas are relatively remote, even the approach might be challenging. Again, unless you are being very deliberate about it (think special operation forces), you cannot travel places like that without assistance or interaction with the locals, so many opportunities for people to wonder what you are trying to do and either report you or get involved themselves.

That's especially true in Bhutan as it sees relatively few tourists (deliberately so) and requires them to book their trip through an approved tour operator. You cannot just show up there and hope to hide in a huge crowd.

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    It should also be noted that all foreigners except for Indian citizens are required to travel with a tour guide present. So you'd need to somehow escape your tour guide or bribe them first, which is a challenge on its own. – JonathanReez Dec 25 '20 at 20:55
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    Or have an Indian passport... – Sebastian Dec 25 '20 at 22:34
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    Or be a Bhutan native yourself. – Grzegorz Oledzki Dec 27 '20 at 18:58
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In addition to the good answer you already have it's worth noting than climbing of all kinds had a very strong sense of ethics. This covers sporting integrity, environmental impact and cultural sensitivity, plus safety of course. 6000m+ mountaineering is also a pretty niche pursuit with a small community and you'd be unlikely to get to this level without first being at least somewhat known by that community. These factors together mean that to some extent these things are self policing. Of course there are always exceptions, so I'm sure it would be possible with very careful planning, but you wouldn't win much praise for it.

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    Depends on which 6000 m +, there are many non-technical peaks of such altitude that an average tourist/trekker/non-technical-mountaineer can walk up. – Vladimir F Dec 27 '20 at 18:11
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    There is also the ethical issue of rescue if things go wrong. One of the most unethical things you can do in mountaineering is to unnecessarily put rescuers at risk. Going on some kind of illegal stealth climb complicates rescue if you need it. And in a third-world country, the resources available to rescuers are skimpy. – Ben Crowell Dec 28 '20 at 15:28
  • Both valid comments thanks. – SimonN Dec 28 '20 at 15:31

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