Nepal Says Historic Everest Video Call Was Illegal

A British mountaineer gave a live video interview with the BBC from Mount Everest – possibly the first-ever smartphone call – but the Nepalese government has called the broadcast “illegal.”

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British climber Daniel Hughes during his video call with the BBC from Mount Everest on Sun. May 19, 2013.

Talk about great cellphone reception. A British climber made history on Sunday by conducting the first-ever live video call atop the world’s highest peak: Mount Everest. But who was Daniel Hughes calling? Maybe his mother, or possibly a significant other? Neither. Hughes made the call to the BBC, and now he’s in some hot water with Nepalese authorities.

On Monday, the Nepali government said Hughes’ video broadcast with the BBC from his smartphone was “illegal,” as the mountaineer didn’t have prior approval from the authorities to conduct his broadcast, the Independent reported.

(MORE: History Made: U.S. Teen with Down Syndrome Reaches Everest Base Camp)

In the video interview with the BBC, Hughes, who is seen wearing his oxygen mask and a clown’s red nose for charity, says, “This is the world’s first live video call — never been done before — from the rooftop of the world.” The mountaineer’s ascent of Everest raised £1 million (about $1.5 million) for the Britain-based anti-poverty charity Comic Relief, the Sydney Morning Herald noted.


Hughes pointed out in the call that there was no camera man with him, just a pole, his smartphone and his red nose for the climb that has been two-and-half years in the making.

The 29,029-ft. (8,848-m) mountain has apparently had mobile phone coverage for several years, but according to the Independent, the British explorer broke the law because he didn’t seek permission from the Nepalese government for his broadcast.

(MORE: New Everest Record: Woman Reaches Summit Twice in a Week)

“Even the tourism ministry has to seek permission from the communication ministry to film, broadcast or conduct media related events on Everest,” Purnachandra Bhattarai, joint secretary of Nepal’s tourism ministry, told the AFP.

The trekking agency hired by Hughes is now under investigation as a result of what happened, but Bhattarai didn’t elaborate further.  According to the Washington Post, the British mountaineer could face a five-year ban for entering Nepal and a 10-year ban from climbing Everest.

Hughes completed his call using Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network service, which has helped other climbers make phone calls from the summit, according to the Verge.  For those wondering, he used a HTC One to make the historic video call interview.

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