Nepali authority confirms 457 climbers summiting Mt. Qomolangma in spring season

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KATHMANDU, July 12 (Xinhua) -- A total of 457 mountaineers, including Sherpa guides, scaled the world's tallest Mt. Qomolangma from the Nepali side during the 2021 spring season of mountaineering, Nepal's Department of Tourism said Monday.

The feat was achieved despite reports about climbers infected with COVID-19 and reduced weather windows due to snowfall and winds in the Himalayas caused by two back-to-back cyclones, TaukTae and Yaas, which originated from east-central Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal respectively.

"After taking briefings from leaders of the expedition teams, we confirmed the number of how many climbers reached the top of Mt. Qomolangma during this year's spring season," Bhisma Raj Bhattarai, a section officer at the mountaineering section of the Tourism Department, told Xinhua.

The department usually confirms the exact number of climbers scaling the Nepal-based mountains after taking briefings from expedition leaders.

According to the department, a total of 182 mountaineers summited Mt. Qomolangma this spring, while 275 climbing guides also reached the top of the 8848.86-meter-high peak that straddles Nepal and China.

A total of 408 climbers took climbing permits for Mt. Qomolangma from the Nepali agency, a record high for the spring season.

"More climbers could have scaled Mt. Qomolangma had the weather conditions remained friendly," said Bhattarai. He added that the coronavirus had hardly made any impact on the mountaineering activities despite reports about climbers being infected with it.

Nepal's Tourism Department has been rejecting reports about a large number of mountaineers infected with the virus. "Nobody notified us formally about the COVID-19 infections," said Bhattarai.

In social media posts, some climbers said they were infected with the coronavirus.

"It is real that a few climbers were infected with the coronavirus, but some climbers who were tested positive for the coronavirus again scaled Mt. Qomolangma after recovering from the illness," Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Seven Summit Treks, a leading expedition company in Nepal, told Xinhua.

In 2019, 644 mountaineers, including 280 foreign nationals, managed to step on the top of Mt. Qomolangma, while Nepal banned climbing in 2020 over the COVID-19 epidemic.

This spring, a total of 633 climbers and their supporting staff scaled six Himalayan mountains, including Mt. Qomolangma, although the Nepali authorities had issued climbing permits for 16 mountains inside Nepal, according to the Tourism Department.

"This is due to bad weather," said Sherpa. "We had clients for Mt. Dhaulagiri and Mt. Makalu, but they had to return empty-handed due to the bad weather." Enditem

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