China has shut down climbing on the north, or Tibetan, side of Mt. Everest this season to thwart further spreading of the coronavirus. The close quarters of base camp combined with the challenges of breathing at high altitude would make an expedition a particular risky venture. Nepal also banned climbing on its side of the peak shortly thereafter, disappointing the 25 expeditions currently planned there.
“Expeditions to Mount Everest have been closed with immediate effect. Climbing permits are canceled till the end of April,” Nepal’s Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari said. The cost of such permits is about $11,000. All Nepal’s other peaks are closed, too.
So far, Nepal has just one reported case of coronavirus. It also announced that it’s closing land borders to visitors, who now must arrive only by the international airport in Kathmandu and then go into 14 days of quarantine.
Guide and outfitter Adrian Ballinger wrote, “While I am saddened for all the hard work our members, guides, Sherpa, local staff, partners and office have put in, and that they and we won’t get to test ourselves on the highest playground in the world this year, I am in agreement with China’s decision. It is responsible, and the same one Alpenglow Expeditions was inevitably leaning towards in the past days.”
Photo of Hillary Step on Mt. Everest via Wikimedia