Climbers In NASA Study Make Illegal Turns Down Everest

Mike Lavery | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
Everest illegal ski descent
Willie Benegas and Matt Moniz. Photo: Benegas Brothers

The Himalayan Times is reporting that two climbers who were part of a NASA study on Mt. Everest made an illegal ski descent for which they were not permitted. Professional climber Willie Benegas, and Dartmouth College Sophomore Matt Moniz, laid down tracks on the Lhotse Face from Camp III down to Camp II without obtaining the proper authorization from the Nepalese Government. The pair were part of a high altitude genetic research study. It’s unclear whether they knew their descent was illegal at the time.

On your next trip to shred Everest, make sure to double check your Facebook friends. The Nepal Department of Tourism appears to have taken notice after the duo posted about their ski descent on social media. Parties attempting to ski Everest usually pay $1500 in permitting fees, and have a liaison officer monitoring their activities. The Department of Tourism is planning legal action against the climbers, which could end their mountaineering pursuits in Nepal for up to 10 years.

Benegas and Moniz were involved with a NASA research project to study the effects of high altitude on genetic changes. Both climbers have twin siblings who are remaining at sea level to serve as the control groups. Previously, NASA’s “twin study” compared changes between astronauts after time in space, and twin siblings home on Earth.

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