The End of Everest? Reimagining Himalayan Adventure Travel in an Age of Unnatural Disasters
Himalayan adventure travel is a burgeoning industry in some mountainous regions of Nepal, India, and the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People‘s Republic of China. The development of a trekking and expedition mountaineering infrastructure has created economic opportunities in remote areas and allowed foreign visitors to embark on life-changing explorations. However, with the industry’s rapid, uneven, and largely unregulated growth have come environmental and resource challenges, the creation of new economic and social arrangements, and renewed questions of equity and safety. The current Himalayan adventure travel paradigm is unsustainable, and I argue that only a profound reimagining of sociopolitical relationships—those between the state, local and global civil society actors, and adventure travel practitioners and participants—will allow it to continue. A series of recent disasters in the mountains may serve as the necessary catalyst for previously underrepresented stakeholders to translate their growing assertiveness into meaningful and durable solutions.