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China Reopens Everest to Domestic Expedition

There may Everest summits in spring 2020 yet, despite the Coronavirus pandemic.

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It now appears that Mount Everest may not be completely deserted this season. After it was previously reported that there would not be any ascents from the Tibetan side, The Himalayan Times is now reporting that the Chinese government has greenlit an expedition run by a Chinese company, Yarla Shampo Expeditions. The newspaper reports that a team of 26 Chinese nationals are preparing to climb Everest this May as part of the expedition. Staff for Yarla Shampo Expeditions told The Himalayan Times, “We are busy in preparing logistics and necessary stuff for the Everest expedition.”

[Also Read The Everest Closure In Numbers: How The Sherpa Are Affected by the Coronavirus Shutdown]

The news comes amid encouraging news out of China concerning the spread of COVID-19, and what measures have been effective in containing the virus. The New York Times reported yesterday that, on Thursday, China had “no new local infections for the first time since the coronavirus crisis began three months ago, reaching a milestone in its battle with the deadly outbreak that has upended daily life and economic activity around the world.”

Despite this new development, all foreign climbers are still banned from the mountain this season, in an effort to contain the spread and human toll of COVID-19. In an announcement released on March 13, the Mountaineering Sports Administration of Tibet stated, “In order to assure the safety and health of mountaineers, and safeguard the interests of adventure companies, it is decided to suspend the [acceptance] of foreigner mountaineering teams in the Spring 2020.”

While the China-Tibet closure left the door open from the outset for ascents by domestic teams, specifically denying “foreigner mountaineering teams” permission to climb, Nepal’s closure did not leave any such leeway. Nepal’s notice was simply a full ban on climbing attempts. Nepal’s Department of Immigration put out a statement saying: “All permits for mountaineering expeditions issued, and to be issued for the spring 2020 season, are hereby suspended.”