COVID-19 shuts down Everest heli tour

Mount Everest Heli Tour
Mount Everest Heli Tour
Mount Everest Heli Tour

China and Nepal have cancelled the upcoming climbing season for both sides of Mount Everest. It will be the first time no one will summit the world’s highest mountain since a massive earthquake closed the peak in 2015.

Though high-altitude climbers are some of the fittest, healthiest people on the planet and their pursuits typically steer them miles away from civilization, but they won’t escape the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused travel restrictions and spurred quarantines around the world.

On March 12, Nepal cancelled all spring climbing expeditions, including those to Everest, according to The Kathmandu Post. Additionally, the government has temporarily stopped issuing on-arrival tourist visas. The visa suspension will go into effect March 14 and last until April 30.

COVID-19 Uncertainty

In 2015, no one climbed Everest for the first time since 1974 after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck, killing roughly 9,000 people, injuring 22,000, and severely damaging critical infrastructure throughout Nepal. Some climbers, although unscathed by the earthquake, found themselves ‘trapped’ above the Khumbu Icefall and called in helicopter rescues, for which they received criticism for diverting a life-saving resource away from other areas that could have more greatly benefited from helicopter support.

The past two years have been defined by increasing crowds that set record numbers of summits: 807 in 2018, and 891 in 2019. This increase in traffic, with huge numbers of climbers all trying to squeeze their summit attempts into narrow spring weather windows, resulted in viral photographs of seemingly endless lines of climbers, clipped into a single rope. In 2019, 11 climbers died on the mountain, and some critics pointed to the massive crowds as a contributing factor.

Now the 2020 season will mark the second time in five years that Everest won’t be climbed due to a catastrophic event.

Posted by

Hum Gurung

Happy go lucky!

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