Careful Climbers Plan Return to Everest in April
The world's tallest mountain has been closed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Nepal's Mount Everest will be open to visitors again next month. The news pleases mountain climbers from around the world.
Climbing season begins in April with the start of better weather. A representative from Nepal's department of tourism expects about 300 climbers will try to reach the top of the mountain this year.
During the climbing season in 2019, a record 381 climbers attempted to reach the top of Everest.
This year, if someone wants to climb the mountain, they must show a recent negative test for the virus. Visitors also must stay away from other people for a week after arriving in Nepal.
Mountain climbing is an important part of Nepal's economy. Eight of the world's 14 highest mountains – including Everest – are at least partly in the South Asian country.
Nepal closed its mountains in 2020 as the coronavirus spread in the country, which borders India and China. Nepal has recorded nearly 275,000 infections and just over 3,000 deaths from the virus.
The virus is more controlled now that vaccinations have started.
The part of Everest in China remains closed, so it is possible that more climbers than usual will come to Nepal.
Lukas Furtenbach is with Furtenbach Adventures, a California-based company that leads mountain climbing trips. He plans to bring 22 people to Nepal for climbing trips this year. Two of his groups will try to climb Everest.
He said his groups will follow COVID-19 rules such as living in a "bubble" at the start of the trip.
Garrett Madison owns an adventure company called Madison Mountaineering. He plans to bring climbers from April through May.
"We are not afraid of COVID, but will take precautions," he said.
Another company, however, will stay away this season.
Adrian Ballinger works for Alpenglow Expeditions in California.
He said it is not a "responsible time" to lead trips to Nepal because of the country's weak healthcare system.
Ballinger added, "The last thing we want to do is put our climbers in harm's way or create a rescue situation on the mountain if someone were to get sick that would put others in danger."
I'm Dan Friedell.