Climbers return to Mt. Everest after long Covid hiatus

Kathmandu: The tallest mountain is all set to welcome hundreds of climbers back as it reopens for the first time after a long Covid-induced break. Government officials and mountaineers have said that they are eager to return to action.

More than 300 foreign climbers were likely to attempt to scale the 8,849-metre (29,031-feet) mountain in the peak climbing season beginning in April, tourism department official Mira Acharya said, compared with a record 381 climbers who attempted the famed summit in the same period in 2019.

“This is … despite the one-week quarantine requirement and certificate showing the climber had tested negative for the virus,” said Acharya.

It was ‘Reuters’ that first broke the news of this reopening.

The country began its vaccination campaign with AstraZeneca shots gifted by India in January. Infections are decreasing with 104 new cases reported on Wednesday, a fraction of the 5,743 cases at its peak in October.

Nepal closed its mountains in March last year as part of tight measures to control the coronavirus which has infected 274,973 people and caused 3,012 deaths nationally so far.

In this May 22, 2019 photo, a long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest just below camp four, in Nepal. Seasoned mountaineers say the Nepal government’s failure to limit the number of climbers on Mount Everest has resulted in dangerous overcrowding and a greater number of deaths. (AP Photo/Rizza Alee)

Expedition organisers say the Chinese side of Everest, which was shut to foreign climbers last year, will stay closed this season as well, likely meaning more climbers on the Nepal side.

(Source: Reuters/ Edited by: Raghav Gautam)