Nepal just announced it will reopen its Himalayan mountains including Mount Everest to climbers for the autumn 2020 season to boost the tourism-dependent economy despite rising coronavirus infections. The Jakarta Post reports Nepal shut down climbing and trekking in March to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has so far infected 19,547 people and caused 52 deaths in the country of 30 million. The absence of climbing in the popular April-May season resulted in millions of lost tourism revenue and some 200,000 sherpas, guides and porters were out of work.
“We have reopened mountaineering and will issue climbing permits for the autumn season.” -Mira Acharya Tourism Department Official
The mountains will reopen but not without restrictions. Climbers will have to follow health protocols issued by the government. The autumn climbing season in Nepal runs from September to November. Although climbing will be allowed, international flights are shutdown until mid-August and travel restrictions within Nepal remain, making domestic travel a major hurdle.
“Some climbers to smaller mountains may come but I have doubts about big ones.” –Ang Tshering Sherpa Expedition Organizer in Kathmandu
Time will tell if and how any major expeditions are launched in Nepal in the age of the pandemic but it is a positive sign to see there will opportunity to access eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains in the year 2020.