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China Opens Everest to Climbing from the North

12 Sherpas have already climbed Everest from the south this season

China has opened the world’s highest peak from the north to a few teams who will be tested for Covid-19 and must keep their distance. This news comes on the same day that 12 Sherpas reached the summit for the first time in 2021, read more about their climb here.

Only 38 Chinese permits have been given out for Everest this year. The climbers come from parts of China that are at low risk for infection. They must undergo temperature checks, use bottled oxygen and stay four metres from other climbers at the summit. They will be provided masks, thermometers and disinfectant.

Climbing schedules from Nepal will be consulted to ensure that packs of climbers don’t create traffic jams, said Nyima Tsering, head of the bureau overseeing Chinese climbing operations.

Nepal and China closed the mountain to foreign climbers in 2020 because of the pandemic, but Nepal has allowed climbers this season despite an outbreak. At least one climber, a Norwegian, confirmed he had contracted the virus at base camp.

Nepal’s officials have denied any outbreak on Everest, citing ailments common in the cold, harsh, low-oxygen environment as the cause of illness. This week, Nepal stopped all flights as part of a strict lockdown. China has all but contained domestic transmission.

In 2020, China used the lockdown to haul six tons of garbage off the mountain. In 2019, 362 people climbed Everest from the north side, 241 made it to the summit. Slightly more climbed from Nepal. Photos of a line of climbers extending from the summit down fixed ropes went viral. A number of climbers died during the chaos, read more here.