Outbreak Closes Mount Everest

Nepal cancels climbing permits 'as a precaution'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2020 6:16 AM CDT
Outbreak Closes Mount Everest
This May 24, 2019, photo shows Rob Lea, a real estate agent from Utah, climbing Mount Everest in Nepal.   (Caroline Gleich via AP)

Even Mount Everest is shutting down. Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Nepal's government on Friday said all climbing permits covering the period running from Saturday through April 30 would be canceled; China canceled expeditions launched from the northern side of the mountain on Thursday, reports the BBC. "Climbing this season has been closed … as a precaution," Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai tells Reuters, which notes the country has closed all of its peaks—not just Everest—for climbing. All tourist visas will also be halted.

A sherpa tells the BBC that many clients had already canceled their trips. It's "a big loss for sherpas like us who make most of our money during this time," says Lakpa Sherpa of Pioneer Adventure. Nepal, which boasts eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, earns about $4 million annually from Everest climbing permits, which typically cost $11,000 each, plus more in tourism revenue. The country, which has asked citizens to avoid mass gatherings, has tested 450 people and found one confirmed case of COVID-19, in a student who returned home from study in China. Neighboring India has 70 cases. (More Mount Everest stories.)

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