The recent insurrections in Egypt and Libya changed a lot of people’s travel arrangements and earlier this week, Russia closed off tourism around Mount Elbrus (18,510 ft./5,642 m.) in the Caucasus mountains near Georgia because of increased violence. Several were attacked, others were killed and bomb plots were discovered.
Political instability has always endangered our adventures. Mountaineering accomplishments practically ceased globally during World War II, except for a few rare exceptions. Nepal’s recent communist insurrection caused some hiccups for the climbers heading in-country, though most were unfazed.
It upsets me whenever regulations, fees and politics gets in the way of me enjoying wilderness on my terms and schedule. I realize that’s probably indicative of the selfishness of this era (and I am trying to fix that about me, really.) But the political dangers are risks that have to be considered. For instance, when Argentina’s economy deflated several years ago, that nation was on the brink of an even greater crisis. It was possible, though a lower risk, that we might not have been able to safely camp near El Chalten.
One’s nationality (and the implied loyalty to a cause that comes with that) is always an issue that needs to be considered; not know what the level of risk is could put a traveler at great risk of succumbing to the violence because the proper precautions were not taken. American citizens should check the State Department’s website before any international trip (except I never check before visiting our great friends in Canada, who does?) Other governments provide similar resources on their websites or through their embassies.
Be careful out there!