Climbers to fix ropes on Mt. Qomolangma before spring expeditions begin

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KATHMANDU, March 3 (Xinhua) -- A team of climbers have moved to fix the ropes on the way to the top of Mt. Qomolangma, with the aim to enable spring expeditions, a staff member of a non-government organization that mobilized the team for rope fixing.

Every year, a team of 'icefall doctors' elite climbers fix the ropes to ease expedition members to climb the world's tallest peak before the expedition begins.

"A nine-member team including six icefall doctors and a supervisor as well as two cooks to prepare food for them, moved to the base camp of Mt. Qomolangma from Namche Bazaar," Rabi Nepal, contact person of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, a non-government organization, involved in rope fixing and clean-up drive of Mt Qomolangma for the last two decades, told Xinhua on Tuesday. Namche Bazaar is located at the base of the Mt. Qomolangma, whose new height was jointly announced by Nepal and China in December last year to be 8848.86 meters.

Nepal said that the team mobilized for rope fixing would move to the base camp of Mt. Qomolangma and are expected to take about a week to reach the base camp. "They are expected to complete rope fixing by the second week of April," he added.

Bhismaraj Bhattarai, section officer at the mountaineering section of the Department of Tourism, which issues climbing permits, also confirmed to Xinhua on Tuesday that the team has already moved on to perform the task of rope fixing.

Only after they fix the ropes are other climbers permitted to climb Mt. Qomolangma, known as Sagarmatha in Nepal. Most climbers start their journey to Mt. Qomolangma in April and climb the mountain in May.

The tourism department starts issuing climbing permits starting from March for the spring expeditions. However, Bhattarai said that the department has not yet issued a single permit for the upcoming spring expedition. "We have received a few applications for climbing permits which are under our study," he said.

The Himalayan country had to cancel last year's spring expeditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as pandemic in early March, the Nepali government had put all tourists visas on hold and cancelled all spring climbing expedition for the limited period. But, as coronavirus spread like a wildfire across the world, the spring expeditions were scrapped entirely.

"Those who had received climbing permits last year and had failed to climb Mt. Qomolangma due to scrapping of expeditions can climb the mountain this year without paying extra fee as per the Nepali government's decision," said Bhattarai. But, the Nepali government has continued its rule that foreign tourists need to stay in hotel quarantine for a week after arriving in Nepal as a precaution against COVID-19 which many tourism entrepreneurs have termed impractical. Enditem

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