Some climbers now report positive test results, although the Nepalese government says there is no infection on Everest.
Erland Ness, a Norwegian mountaineer who emigrated from Everest Base Camp in late April, confirmed to CNN that he had been tested positive when he arrived at a hospital in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
“When I tested it positively, it was shocking and then I realized the expedition was over for me,” said Nest. “My dream was to reach the top of the mountain and see the view.”
Nepal government rules that prevent climbers from sharing photos of other climbers without their consent have restricted the information coming from the mountain. But the rumor has spread in many cases – not just in Everest.
At least 19 people have been evacuated from the world’s seventh highest mountain climbing camp – Dhaulagiri – 345 kilometers (214 miles) west of Everest, according to company chairman Mingma Sherpa. Seven Summits Trek Tour
He was tested positive for seven, and 12 more were scheduled to be tested after showing symptoms.
Nepal Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Santosh Ballave Paudel said the three cleaners at Dhaulagiri Base Camp tested positive. One person was evacuated on Wednesday and two others will be evacuated when the weather is clear.
Expedition chief Lukas Furtenbach said climbers were concerned that Nepal would shut down Everest and its top trails.
“I guess there will be many more cases,” Furtenbach told CNN from his camp at Mera Peak, south of Everest. “Everyone is concerned about the message coming from the Department of Tourism: ‘You have to go home, everyone.'”
Everest Patient Center
Many Nepalese rely on tourism and mountaineering for their livelihoods.In 2018, Nepal’s tourism industry directly and indirectly contributed to more than 1 million jobs.
After last year’s mountaineering season canceled due to an epidemic, Nepal’s tourism department has granted 408 licenses to Everest climbers this year, up from 393 in 2019 when it was crowded. Many have died, and the viral photos of hikers reaching the peak have attracted international attention.
“Base Camp is a small town,” he said. Veteran Everest watcher Alan Arnett, who was most popular in 2011 and now runs the Furtenbach climbing site, is expected to have around 1,200 people at the camp this year.
Those conditions make social isolation difficult. “Usually there are gatherings, events, camp parties and teams visiting other teams and making new friends,” Fertenbach said.
Now, most entrepreneurs are trying to stay in the bubble, with Sherpa and some local employees having to give up their normal routine of going home on vacation. And many teams do their best to spend as little time on Everest as possible.
Tent at Everest base camp on Monday
Prakash Mathema / AFP / Getty Images
“We all use the non-toxic tent at home, we send it to our customers, and they simulate the oxygen levels of higher altitudes,” said Furtenbach, who hopes to get up and down Everest in less than four weeks.
Viruses can hit quickly. Nest, who became the first COVID-19 case in Everest for public identification, said he began to feel vulnerable after five days of the team’s trip to basecamp.
“I felt weak (and) I used to feel strong … (I) had a headache in the mountains, maybe a little fever, I’m not sure. But my oxygen level is very low. ”
“In the basecamp, I got worse every day,” said Nest, adding that doctors eventually called him to be taken to hospital where he was tested positive.
The positive results kept Ness practicing for three years. But he found himself fortunate to recover quickly.
“I think if I got COVID in Kathmandu, I wouldn’t be very sick because I recovered very quickly after going out of the mountain,” he said. 18,000 feet) [above sea level] Than in Kathmandu “
Reports of Covid-19 cases put a tense atmosphere at Everest Base Camp.
“We got e-mails from the rest of the team and tried to decide whether to come home or not because things seemed pretty serious,” said Adrian Ballinger, the expedition leader who pulled out of the mountain climbing season. Everest over COVID – 19 concerns
“I heard from a guide Sherpa and a helicopter company about the amount of COVID that saved their lives,” he said. “I had another big operator writing: ‘You’re so glad you didn’t go.’ ”
As rumors spread, concerns rose about the lack of on-site testing. “We expect the government (to) confirm these cases, keep everything transparent, perhaps send a team to the base camp for action. Many tests, which will find the superiority, “said Fertenbach, the expedition’s chief.
“I think every operator is willing to pay for this – it might help the season because there is a risk if there are more and more cases that might end early this season.”
Everest ER, a rescue service run by the non-profit Himalayan Rescue Association, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that persistent coughing was their number one complaint this season.
“This year has been very challenging compared to the COVID epidemic,” they said. “We currently don’t have the ability to test the point of care quickly.”
Speaking to the Seven Summit Treks expedition at Everest, Mingma Sherpa said his team had departed Camp 2 and was expected to reach Camp 4 on Thursday. “If we were testing Covid-19 among climbers, some of them might test positive for the virus. But until now, there have been no symptoms showing signs of serious health complications except colds and coughs, ”he said.
Lukas Furtenbach as he started Everest
Courtesy Lukas Furtenbach
Seven Summit Treks has 130 customers climbing Mount Everest this spring. The first summit bid, led by the company, is set for Sunday.
Several Everest climbers told CNN their teams were reluctant to speak to reporters about the Covid-19 situation for fear of mountain climbing licenses will be denied in the coming seasons. This makes it difficult to assess how many hikers have been infected and be confident of the rumors. The mill is in overload, even among mountain climbers.
“I know people who have been infected, have been to Kathmandu, and now they are recovering and I know people who have never had a case in their camp,” Arnet said, explaining his conversation. With climbers during a recent week. “It’s choppy and in accordance with the situation.”
“We are all trying to figure out what happened, what are we doing wrong beside it,” he added.
Of all the places in the world where COVID-19 can be captured, Mount Everest is perhaps the worst.
“Everybody’s respiratory system is struggling and overworked, and it’s becoming more vulnerable to upper respiratory illness,” said Ballinger, the survey’s lead. He said climbers face intense physical battles with each step up the mountain.
“You can’t sleep at high altitudes, so you get exhaustion from not sleeping for many days, you can’t eat because your digestive system doesn’t need it – whatever you put in your stomach. It is incredibly nauseated, ”he said.
Sustained coughs are more common in Everest.They are named – the valley-based cough kombu that leads to Everest, making it especially difficult to detect COVID-19.
“Your body is working to its limit, so catching COVID is a real threat to your health and life,” said Fertenbach, the expedition’s chief.
And the evacuation can become dangerous when the team leaves the base camp and begins. “If the weather is bad and someone is in trouble, the helicopter evacuation will take days and be very dangerous,” Fertenbach said.
“So it will be a big problem if the infected person gets up in the mountains.”
For now, the morale remains.
“Everyone’s excited,” Furtenbach said. “We’ve had customers waiting for two years, and this was their dream of life.”
Furtenbach’s team brought their own Covid-19 test to Everest and their team members were regularly tested.
Courtesy Lukas Furtenbach
But neighboring Nepal and India face a second wave of COVID-19 infections – Nepal reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per day on Wednesday, some climbers took note. To the mental obstacles as well
“I think we’ll start to see some climbers go away because they feel they are on the wrong side of the moral question, with the Kathmandu epidemic being so severe,” Ballinger predicted. Was there with a thousand oxygen bottles. “
“If there are more and more cases coming in (at basecamp), authorities in Nepal will have to take some action,” Furtenbach added, adding that the end of the early climbing season is possible.
“I think they try to do the right thing, they try to save the season. But maybe it’s not the right thing. “
CNN’s Bex Wright contributed to the reporting by journalists Kosh Raj Koirala and Asha Thapa reporting from Kathmandu.