Virus fails to deter hundreds of climbers on Mount Everest
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A year after Mount Everest was closed to climbers as the pandemic swept across the globe, hundreds are making the final push to the summit with only a few more days left in the season, saying they are undeterred by a coronavirus outbreak in base camp.
Three expedition teams to Everest canceled their climb this month following reports of people getting sick. But the remaining 41 teams decided to continue with hundreds of climbers and their guides scaling the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) top in the season that ends in May, before bad weather sets in.
“Even though the coronavirus has reached the Everest base camp, it has not made any huge effect like what is being believed outside of the mountain,” said Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, the biggest expedition operator on Everest. “No one has really fallen seriously sick because of COVID or died like the rumors that have been spreading.”
With 122 clients from 10 teams on Everest, the company led the biggest group but there were no serious illnesses among them, he said.
Nepalese officials have downplayed reports of coronavirus cases on Mount Everest, apparently out of concern of creating chaos and confusion in the base camp. After a gap year of no income from climbers, Nepal has been eager to cash in on this year’s season.
“Many people made it to the base camp and it is possible that the people who went there from here could have been infected,” Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli said. “But that does not mean that it (coronavirus) has reached the entire mountain, maybe a part of the base camp or the area below that.”
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