Nepal issues record climbing permits for Mt. Qomolangma amid pandemic


Nepali authorities have issued record number of expedition permits for Mt. Qomolangma, defying expectations of reduced number of permit issuance compared to past years amid Covid-19 pandemic.

The Himalayan country issued a record 394 permits for the Mt. Qomolangma, the world’s tallest peak by Friday, which broke the earlier record of 381 permits issued in 2019, according to the Department of Tourism, which issues such permits, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

“We had not expected that such a large number of mountaineers would be climbing the Mt. Qomolangma in the middle of the pandemic,” Mira Acharya, director at the mountaineering section of the department told Xinhua on Friday. “This suggests the massive charm of Mt. Qomolangma among the mountaineers as well as their passion towards climbing the mountain despite the risk of the Covid-19.”

The department had initially estimated that maximum 325-330 permits could be issued this spring season for the Mt. Qomolangma. “We later estimated the number of permits to be issued could be around 370,” said Acharya. “But, the flow of people willing to climb the world’s tallest mountain defied our expectations.”

According to the department, there is no additional application in the pipeline for expedition to Mt. Qomolangma. Before new permits issued on Friday, such applications were not in the pipeline until a few days ago. “So there is still a chance that some more permits could be issued for the Mt. Qomolangma,” said Acharya.

The world’s tallest peak, whose revised height is 8848.86 meters, continues to attract a large number of adventure lovers.

Even those who had prepared for expedition to this mountain last year but could not do so due to suspension of all mountaineering activities by the Nepali government amid Covid-19 fears, have also come this year, according to Nepali officials and companies organising the expedition this year.

“But, the main reason for the record high permit issuance is love and passion among the mountain lovers towards the Himalayas, particularly the Mt. Qomolangma,” Mingma Sherpa, chairperson of Seven Summit Trek, one of the leading expedition organising companies in Nepal, told Xinhua.

According to him, his company alone is managing 110 climbers who got climbing permits for the Mt. Qomolangma, known as Sagarmatha in Nepal. The number of climbing permits issued does not incorporate the mountaineering guides, mostly the Nepali Sherpas as they don’t need to take such permits.

According to Sherpa, over 2,000 mountaineers, guides and other assistants have already reached the base camp of the Mt. Qomolangma.

In 2019, a record 644 mountaineers, including 280 foreigner mountaineers and Sherpa guides had stepped onto the top of the world.