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China’s Mount Everest climbers stuck in Nepal as Beijing bars flights due to Covid risk

China’s Mount Everest climbers stuck in Nepal as Beijing bars flights due to Covid risk

Around 30 mountaineers from China are stranded in Nepal due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Beijing, according to a Reuters  report from Kathmandu.

Nepal has seen a sudden surge in Covid-19 infections and the country has a positivity rate of more than 24%. This has led to many countries, including China,  imposing restrictions on travellers from the Himalayan country.

Hong Kong resident Tsang Yin-Hung, who is the fastest woman climber to scale Mount Everest in a record time of 25 hours and 50 minutes last month, said getting back home appeared harder than her ascent to the 8,848.86 metre (29,032 feet) peak.

“I think the summit climb for me was possible and achievable. But  going back home looks hopeless. There is no way to go back,” Reuters quoted 44-year-old Tsang as saying.

"There are no flights from Nepal to any place in China or Hong Kong,” she said.

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Reuters also cited Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, a senior official at the Seven Summit Treks company as saying that more than 30 Chinese climbers were stranded in Kathmandu.

Interestingly, China had decided to cancel the 2021 spring climbing season from the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The decision was taken  after 30 climbers with Covid-19 symptoms were evacuated from the base camp on the Nepalese side of the world's highest mountain.

China had earlier decided to set up a "separation line" on the peak of Mount Everest to avoid possible Covid-19 infections by mountaineers from the Nepal side.

Mount Everest is situated on the China-Nepal border, with the northern slope falling on the Chinese side.

China had given approval to 21 mountaineers to climb to the summit of Mount Everest this year after having quarantined in Tibet since early April, the official said.

However, this year Nepal has issued a record number of 408 climbing permits to try and boost visitors after its tourism industry suffered a devastating blow in 2020 from the  pandemic as mountaineering expeditions to Mount Everest were stopped

An Everest permit alone from Nepal costs $11,000 and climbers pay more than $40,000 for an expedition.

More than a thousand people are usually camped at the base of Mount Everest on the Nepalese side during the climbing season, including foreign climbers and the 

teams of Nepali guides that escort them to the peak.