Reflections on Liaison Officers.

Dear Family & Friends,

Some trivia for you…

Whenever you organize an expedition to a big peak anywhere in Nepal the law says you must be assigned a Liaison Officer. The role of the L.O, other than being the official link between your expedition and the authorities, is to ensure you do not exceed your permit and accidently climb the wrong mountain (or additional ones!), enter a restricted area and in the event of serious problems with local staff some retrospective ear-pulling of said staff. Because they rarely accompany you on the expedition, and have little or no mountaineering background, in reality the L.O is of little value, he or she is often a nuisance as well as a major drain on resources – not that you would know; their posturing often suggests theirs is a role of immense importance.

During the Ministry briefing for an expedition to Annapurna IV a few years ago I was wondering where in the scheme of things the elderly Nepali man, half asleep in the chair next to me, fitted? Next minute he was introduced as our Liaison Officer and I panicked thinking this guy will never make it to base camp; how will we inform the Ministry that our only means of contact with the Ministry died upon leaving the Kathmandu valley?

The problem was solved in the car park outside the Ministry 10 minutes after the meeting had finished when we quietly bundled the still sleepy bureaucrat into a taxi and drove him to a secret location. He stayed there, out of harms way, until the expedition had finished and emerged refreshed and well fed for the end of trip briefing. (We quickly briefed him first…)

L.O’s are required to be present at the pre and post expedition briefings at the ‘Ministry for Civil Aviation and Tourism’; there, wearing a suitably serious facial expression, they shake hands with everyone, sign various documents, smile and nod.

For this effort an Everest expedition L.O will receive around US$2500.00.

Most don’t even bother to turn up at base camp (cost of Lukla flight, food and lodging to BC not included in above) to check on the progress of their assigned expedition.

At least our Everest Liaison Officer made the effort this year and arrived here on May 4th.

Sadly he didn’t agree with the rarefied air at BC and promptly passed out, spending the next 24 hours on oxygen at the ‘Everest ER’.

Useless!

Soren

(‘Everest ER’ is a non-profit medical clinic here at base camp. Since its inception 9 years ago doctors at Everest ER have looked after locals as well as foreigners during the spring climbing season on Everest – March to May).

 

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