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Sir Ranulph Fiennes' bid to summit Mount Everest in May as a fundraiser for a British cancer care charity has been put into jeopardy after Nepal acceded to Chinese demands to close the south side of the mountain.

The 64-year-old adventurer was due to leave for Nepal in April as part of the “Conquer Your Own Everest” campaign, and his summit attempt aimed to raise at least $4 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

But China is paranoid that climbers will use their summit attempts to protest over the hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games, especially after recent massacres in Tibet.

Fiennes has enlisted the help of experienced mountain guide Kenton Cool to help him in the challenge, and hopes they can successfully talk their way round the ban.

“With the mountain completely shut until 10 May our chances of a summit attempt are virtually zero,” said Cool. “Hopefully there is still room for negotiation with the authorities. We would only need a few days to stock camps and prepare, so we could still be in with a chance.”

Sir Ranulph is certainly no stranger to adventure. He was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles by land, and also to cross Antarctica by foot. In March 2007 he climbed the daunting North Face of the Eiger and raised over $3 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

If the Everest attempt does go ahead, the official website will be launched on March 27 at Conquer Your Own Everest.

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