No one will climb Mount Everest this year
Last week, we shared the news that China had closed their side of Mount Everest to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at base camps. This week, Nepal announced that they would shut their side of the mountain, effectively closing the world’s highest peak to climbers this season.
According to SNEWS, the decision to close Everest came in large part because of the nature of the virus, which affects respiratory function in those infected. In a high-altitude, low-oxygen environment such as Mount Everest, the consequences of COVID-19 could be even more serious than they are at sea level. The close quarters of those staying at base camp also played into the decision to close the mountain, since it’s not possible to practice social distancing there.
“This is disappointing news for both our expedition leaders and our clients,” Lukas Furtenbach, the founder of Furtenbach Adventures, a company that leads climbers to the summit of Everest, told SNEWS. “At Furtenbach, we continue to emphasize safety and wellbeing above all, so we understand the dire consequences a COVID-19 outbreak at base camp would have. Sadly, we have to agree that this is a reasonable call to make right now.”
In recent years, overcrowding on Mount Everest has become a problem, leading to a variety of issues, from enormous amounts of trash discarded on the mountain to increases in climber deaths.
Photo of hikers on Mount Everest from Getty Images