For the second time in a week, coronavirus has made its mark on Everest ascents. As of Thursday, the Nepalese government has disallowed any attempts to summit Mount Everest.
“All permits for mountaineering expeditions issued, and to be issued for the spring 2020 season, are hereby suspended,” stated the Nepal Department of Immigration in a notice on Friday.
On Wednesday, China notified climbers that it was closing the Tibetan side to ascents, effectively closing the spring season.
According to the Kathmandu Post, the Nepal Department of Tourism issued 382 permits during the 2019 season. The department charges $15,000 per person to attempt the climb, so closing the mountain shuts out millions of dollars from the local economy. Many of the businesses in the area, such as guides, restaurants, and hotels, rely on the economic boost climbers bring to the area. The closure affects the many Sherpas who count on the traffic up Everest for their incomes.
An Everest guide, Adrian Ballinger, posted on his Instagram: “Nepal shuts the spring climbing season as well. I’m happy to see the country making a conservative call in regards to Everest and tourism. We should support it. And … my unasked-for opinion: expedition operators and team members of expeditions should pay what they can to ensure partial salaries to staff of their canceled trips. Many Nepalese and Tibetans and also often foreign guides depend on this trip for their families’ annual expenses.”
According to Ballinger, high altitude and low oxygen levels can exacerbate the effects of the Wuhan Coronavirus, a respiratory illness. Mount Everest also brings in large numbers of climbers from all over the world, increasing the chances of infection. Nepal has thus far avoided a major outbreak, with only one reported case.