Kathmandu - A
South African caught attempting to climb Mount Everest without an
$11 000 (R150 000) permit said on Thursday that he couldn't afford the hefty fee, but
had always planned to turn himself in and serve jail time as punishment.
Ryan Sean Davy was arrested on Tuesday after handing himself into
authorities in Kathmandu, a week after he was found hiding in a cave
near Everest base camp without a permit.
He told AFP at a police detention centre that he knew he would have
to eventually turn himself in - and likely face jail time - because he
wanted to release a film and book about his Everest adventure.
"I realised that I would have to turn myself in to make it all legal,
do the jail time because I can't afford the permit," said the
43-year-old, who now faces a $22 000 (R300 000) fine.
Davy, who has no prior mountaineering experience, was attempting to
scale the world's highest peak alone and with limited equipment - and
hoped to save the lives of other climbers along the way.
Before he was caught he had managed to climb as high as camp one at
an altitude of 6 000 metres (nearly 20 000 feet), despite not having all
the proper equipment.
To get there he had to cross the treacherous Khumbu icefall, a huge
stretch of glacier containing deep crevasses that must be crossed by
"I had some of the gear, not all of it, so there were some really interesting, scary parts," he said.
Davy recently hit a low point in his life after ploughing all this
savings into two feature films that never got off the ground, but felt
he could pick himself up if he was able to help someone else.
"I just really wanted to find some sort of fulfillment by helping
somebody, whatever the consequence was," he said, sitting in a small
office at a police station in Kathmandu wearing a green t-shirt,
boardshorts and flip-flops.
"I couldn't figure out what to do and then I realised if there's one
place in the world where there's a guarantee that I could help people
then that's Mount Everest," he said.
Davy said he was motivated by the controversial death of British mountaineer David Sharp near the summit of Everest in 2006.
Sharp's death sparked a heated debate within the climbing community
because a number of climbers passed him during their ascent to the
summit but did not stop to help.
"I'd learned about the David Sharp scenario, where a lot of the
climbers got summit fever and a lot of the climbers walked right past a
dying man. So I was worried maybe the same thing would happen," Davy
Once he reached the
summit, Davy said he had planned to cross to the Tibet side of the
mountain - a move that would have landed him in trouble with the
Chinese authorities as well.
"I wanted to traverse actually. I know that's illegal," Davy said.
"By traversing I could have been able to help people on the north
side because a lot of people struggle on the steps, so if there were any
potential fatalities, I was hoping I could be of service."
Davy - who is due to appear in court on Sunday - could face up to
four years in prison if he cannot pay the hefty fine, director of the
tourism department Dinesh Bhattarai told AFP.
In addition to a $22 000 (R300 000) fine for climbing Everest without
permission, Davy could be hit with another $1 500 (R20 000) fee for partially
scaling Pumori and Lobuche, two neighbouring mountains, Bhattarai said.
The filmmaker is also facing charges under Nepal's strict public
order laws for swearing at officials from the tourism department during
questioning - allegations Davy denies.
Johannesburg-born but US based, Davy moved to Aspen, Colorado six
months ago to begin preparing for his Everest bid, living out of the
back of a van because he was short on cash.
"For the last six months prior to my Everest expedition I just
focused all my attention on learning how to climb, learning how to use
the equipment," he said.
"I know that I could have ended up in trouble, but I was really
hoping that nobody would have had to come to my aid because I didn't
want to risk anybody else's life."
"My only real regret is that I was caught before I was able to do any good."