There will be no ascents of Mount Everest from the Tibetan north side this spring. Chinese state media report Himalayan Expedition – the only expedition operator that had obtained permits for 21 Chinese climbers for this spring season – is foregoing summit attempts. According to information I received from Tibet, Chinese authorities fear that the climbers could contract COVID-19 at the summit of Everest – if they meet other climbers there who have ascended from the Nepalese south side of the mountain.
Fixed ropes already up to 8,300 meters
Because of the corona pandemic, Tibet’s mountains had been closed to foreign climbers – as they were in spring 2020. In Nepal, the coronavirus is currently spreading rapidly. The health system of the Himalayan state is unable to cope with the massive outbreak. There are also said to have been several dozen cases of COVID-19 at Everest Base Camp in recent weeks.
On Monday, Chinese authorities had announced that a separation line would be established at the summit to guarantee corona safety distances. Previously, ropes had been fixed on the Northeast Ridge up to the last high camp at 8,300 meters. All that was missing was the summit push – which will now not happen.
Update 15 May: Furtenbach Adventures abandons their Everest expedition – “due to safety concerns” regarding corona, as Lukas Furtenbach informs me. The “situation is escalating,” according to the Austrian, even at base camp. There are many new infections in all teams, says Lukas.