China bans scaling Everest from its side of the world’s highest peak amid growing fears climbers will bring in Covid from Nepal
- China has banned climbers ascending Everest from its side of the peak
- Comes amid a surging Covid outbreak in Nepal, which has hit base camp
- Beijing fears climbers could contract Covid while mingling at the summit
China has banned attempts to scale Everest from its side of the world’s highest peak, as Beijing takes its unflinching Covid-19 controls to the Roof of the World.
The block on climbing was announced over concerns of the risk of Covid-19 infection by climbers starting out in Nepal, where the pandemic is raging.
China was the first country hit by the pandemic in late 2019, but has since largely contained the disease with strict border controls.
China has banned people from ascending Everest from its side of the peak amid fears climbers could contract Covid at the summing (pictured, Chinese base camp)
Beijing fears a rebound of infections could emerge from abroad.
With borders all but closed since March 2020, China is now worried about risks at the snow-capped summit, which it shares with Nepal at 8,848 meters above sea level, as the spring climbing season roars to life.
Nepal, India’s neighbour, has been hit hard by a second wave of the epidemic, just as the Himalayan state was planning to revive its tourism this summer after a wiped-out 2020 season.
In recent weeks the coronavirus has been recorded at base camp on the Nepalese side of the climb.
Given the health situation, ‘all climbing activities are cancelled’, state media said Friday, referring to the Tibetan name of the peak.
The agency said the decision was made by the China Sports Administration. It was not clear how long the edict would be in place for.
Earlier last week, China said it would set up a ‘separation line’ at the summit of Everest to protect against coronavirus from mingling with Nepal-side climbers.
But Beijing did not specify how it intended to mark its territory on the narrow summit of the world’s highest mountain, where only a few climbers can fit at a time.
Both countries suspended the climbing season on the world’s highest mountain last year due to the pandemic.
Nepal has issued permits allowing 408 foreigners to attempt climbs this year as it tries to boost tourism revenue.
China has issued permits to 38 people to climb on Mount Everest this year.
Xinhua said 21 Chinese climbers were approved to attempt to reach the summit from the northern slope. A separate group of 17 climbers has also received permits to hike on the northern slope.
Officials in Nepal have refused to speak about any Everest outbreak. One climber, a Norwegian, told The Associated Press last month he had developed COVID-19 and has since left the country after getting better.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, a mountaineering expert who has been in the mountaineering community for decades, said it was not possible to draw any kind of separation on the Everest summit.
The only point where climbers from both sides would even come close is the summit, which is a small space where climbers spend only a few minutes to take photographs and experience the 360-degree views.
Climbers would be wearing thick layers of clothing and gear and their faces would be covered with oxygen masks, glasses and protection from the freezing air.
‘The idea that anyone with coronavirus could even reach the summit is impossible because climbers with any respiratory difficulties will just not be able to reach the altitude,’ he said.
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