While Nepal threatens to sink into corona chaos, the climbing season on Mount Everest continues as if nothing had happened. The ropes on the Nepalese south side of the mountain are fixed up to the South Col at nearly 8,000 meters. The wind continues to blow moderately, so the news of the first summit success is expected in the next few days – from the Sherpa team that secures the route with ropes to the highest point at 8,849 meters.
According to information from Tibet, the preparatory work on the north side of Everest is also as good as completed. The fixed ropes on the Northeast Ridge are up to a height of 8,300 meters, it is said. The Chinese authorities have closed Everest to foreign climbers this spring – as they did in 2020 – because of the corona pandemic. Only a Chinese expedition with 25 clients received a permit.
At least eight positive tests
After dozens of corona infections at base camp on the south side of Everest, COVID-19 cases among climbers are now also being reported from the eight-thousander Dhaulagiri in western Nepal. As Polish climber Waldemar Kowalewski told his compatriot Zbyszek Bak, eight climbers have tested positive for the coronavirus. A third of all climbers on Dhaulagiri had already left base camp or were waiting to be flown out by helicopter, he said.
The government of Nepal has banned all domestic flights because of the dramatic worsening of the corona situation; only rescue flights are still allowed. International flights have also been suspended until 14 May. Authorities registered 7,587 new COVID infections and 55 deaths on Tuesday – the most in one day since the pandemic began more than a year ago. About one in two corona tests came back positive. Because of the low testing capacity in Nepal, a very high number of unreported cases must be expected. Most hospitals no longer have any free beds, and there is also a shortage of oxygen to ventilate the seriously ill.