China cancels this year’s Mt Everest spring climbing season due to coronavirus fears

People climbing Mt. Everest. (Photo courtesy: Mountain Professionals)

(, May18’21) – With its hare-brained idea of using a “line of separation” atop occupied Tibet’s side of Mt Everest to prevent the transmission of the Covid-19 virus from climbers from the south (namely, Nepal) apparently seen to be unworkable, China has canceled this year’s spring climbing season altogether.

The General Administration of Sport announced the decision May 14, saying mountaineers with permits to climb Everest should stop their ascents, reported the May 17, citing China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Before the announcement, a total of 21 Chinese climbers from a Tibetan company had been approved to ascend the summit this spring, the report cited Nima Tsering, director of the Tibet Autonomous Region Sports Bureau, as saying. Another 17 people had been allowed to travel to North Col, the pass that serves as the location of the base camp for those climbing the mountain from the Tibetan side.

The report noted that the precautionary measure had come as China was trying to stop coronavirus cases coming in from Nepal, where more than 7,000 patients a day had contracted the virus for 11 straight days. Nepal has so far reported more than 455,000 cases and 5,000 deaths from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and China is especially concerned about the double mutant variant of the virus detected in India and spreading to other countries.

Every year, climbers from all over the world attempt to reach Everest’s summit in May, the month seen as the ideal “window” for the climb because there is less rain and snow on the mountain. Nonetheless, climbers still need to deal with the risks posed by the difficult conditions at the heights of Everest, which include temperatures that can fall as low as -40 Celsius, the report noted.

Chinese health authorities in occupied Tibet had earlier said they would establish “a line of separation” at the summit to prevent climbers ascending from different sides of Everest, which straddles the common border of occupied Tibet and Nepal, from coming in contact with each other. However, it remained unclear how the two sides will be cordoned off from each other on the small, snow-covered summit, the report noted.


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