Hundreds of climbers are queuing up to climb the world’s highest mountains thanks to Nepal allowing foreigners to visit for mountaineering. In April, the pandemic reached Everest base camp with an unknown number of climbers having been infected.
News outlets have reported that at least 19 people, both foreign climbers and Sherpa, have tested positive at the base camp of Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh-highest mountain and part of the same range as Everest.
Mingma Sherpa, the chair of Seven Summit Treks, who is running an expedition at Dhaulagiri base camp, confirmed that four climbers had been flown to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, on Tuesday after they were found to be positive in rapid diagnostic tests at the camp. Another three cases were detected on Monday and 11 more were found on Wednesday. “They are currently going through tests in Kathmandu hospital, we couldn’t airlift others today [Wednesday] because of the weather,” said Sherpa. Other climbers would be rescued on Thursday, he said.
The Nepal army spokesman Brig Gen Shantosh Ballave Poudyal confirmed that three Sherpa from the army’s mountain cleaning campaign have Covid-19. Nepal’s army is working to collect waste from six mountains including Everest and Dhaulagiri.
The Mexican climber Viridiana Álvarez wrote on Instagram: “Covid-19 is in Dhaulagiri BC. Many Sherpa and climbers are positive and have been evacuated. Still waiting for tests for everyone.”
For this 2021 season, Nepal has issued 740 permits to climbers, including 408 for Everest. International flights to and from Nepal have already been suspended until May 14. Today, Nepal reported 8,659 new cases, a record high, and 58 deaths in 24 hours. A shortage of hospital beds and oxygen have been reported in Nepal’s cities, including Kathmandu where sick climbers are evacuated to.