By Amy Sharaf
Ryerson professors may need to pack away their gear and postpone their planned trip to Mount Everest if turmoil in Nepal continues.
“Right now, I wouldn’t recommend (travelling to Nepal),” said Uzma Jamil, an expert on comparative politics in South Asia and the Middle East. “It’s not the most stable of regions.”
On Feb. 1, King Gyanendra of Nepal declared a state of emergency in his country, temporarily shutting down travel to and from the country and placing restrictions on media.
Ottawa has since placed a travel advisory warning Canadians not to fly to the nation, where a bloody internal conflict is raging on. The civil unrest could jeopardize a Ryerson research expedition to Mount Everest that is set to study physiology and tourism. Kanatek Technologies is sponsoring the trip and company president Terry Kell said they are monitoring the situation.
“It’s definitely a concern,” he said. “It will be a problem if (airports) are shut down, but we’re expecting that to be clear once we get there.”
Ryerson’s group of four was originally set to leave on March 25. Director of business management Peter Luk said as far as he knows, he’ll still be going to Everest. “You need to be optimistic,” he said. “We have no control, but we don’t think it will be like that forever.” Contacts in Nepal are monitoring events and a deposit has already been paid to the guide company, said Business professor David Valliere, who will accompany the Ryerson team.
Valliere was in Nepal in April and said the conflict is nothing new. By March, Nepal will hit its tourism peak and want an influx of travelers. “This is our theory…they’re not going to turn away business,” Kell said.
Vice Provost Faculty Affairs Michael Dewson is developing a “risk-management plan” with Business prof Norm O’Reilly, who will also be scaling the mountain. The research will take Nepal’s political conflict into account. While all parties involved are still planning on going, Kell said they’ll decide whether to delay the trip a week before they depart.
“I’m not going to put myself in any life-threatening situations,” he said. “I mean if it turns into a civil war, no–we’re not going. The research is not that important.”