Expedition operators on Mount Everest have said Chinese mountaineering officials will not allow spring climbs from their side of the mountain due to coronavirus fears.
On the other side of the mountain in Nepal, operators said cancellations for the popular spring climbing season have been pouring in despite the mountain being open for business.
Dawa Shepra, of Kathmandu-based Climbalaya Treks and Expeditions, said the officials told them that though the virus was coming under control in China, they could not risk bringing in foreign climbers.
He said the conversation with the China Tibet Mountaineering Association officials was over the phone and no official messages were sent.
Jiban Ghimire, of Shangrila Nepal Trek, also said he spoke on the phone with Chinese officials who said there would be no climbing on Everest during this year’s popular spring climbing season.
Climbers using the northern route in China generally use operators based in Nepal to equip and manage the expeditions.
Although China has cancelled most sports events for the foreseeable future, Zhang Mingxin, of the Tibetan sports administration, said it was still monitoring the situation and had yet to make a decision.
“We have been maintaining contact with overseas organisers of the mountaineering teams to get updated information. It depends on the development of the epidemic situation and the ability of our providing services,” Zhang said.
In Nepal, the mountaineering season began last week and Everest was still open for climbers.
Officials and mountaineering expedition operators, however, said they fear there will be a significant drop in the number of climbers this year.
That could reduce government revenue and affect the thousands of workers who depend on the climbers for their livelihoods.
We are getting flooded with postponementsJiban Ghimire, Shangrila Nepal Trek
“This season is not very encouraging for the mountaineering industry in Nepal,” said Surendra Thapa, director at Nepal’s Department of Tourism.
Operators said that though climbers generally arrive in April so they can attempt to scale the peak in May, they were getting many cancellations.
“We are getting flooded with postponements. They all want to hold on their climb and shift to the 2021 season,” said Jiban Ghimire, of Shangrila Nepal Trek.
Pemba Sherpa, of Xtreme Climbers Treks, said the cancellations were going to be a big setback for Nepal’s mountaineering industry.