KATHMANDU: SEPT. 7 – As many as 160 mountaineers have received permits to climb two Himalayan mountains inside Nepal in the fall season as of Monday despite the continued threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal’s Department of Tourism said.
As shown by data released by the department on the day, 157 climbers from 15 teams have got permits for Mt. Manaslu, the world’s eighth tallest peak at 8,163 meters, while a three-member team was greenlighted for the world’s third-highest Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586m).
“So many mountaineers receiving climbing permits for the autumn season suggest that there is a massive lure of Nepal’s Himalayan mountains among the climbers despite the risk of being infected with the coronavirus,” Bhisma Raj Bhattarai, section officer at the department.
“A significant number of mountaineers are arriving in Nepal to climb the mountains here, even though Nepal has not been issuing on-arrival visas for foreign tourists since the second wave of COVID-19 hit the country in April,” added the officer.
In spring this year, reports about the spread of the coronavirus among mountaineers attempting Himalayan mountains inside Nepal had made international headlines, yet a total of 633 climbers and their supporting staff scaled six mountains, including Mt. Qomolangma, the world’s tallest at 8848.86 meters, according to the department.
Bhattarai said most climbers were preparing to climb Mt. Manaslu in the fall season that began this month because the season is suitable to summit the peak.
Himalaya Vision Treks & Expedition Pvt. Ltd, a Nepali company, is organizing an expedition of Mt. Manaslu for a group of mountaineers.
“We’re organizing the expedition for ten climbers, all from Europe, after they received climbing permits,” Subash Kumar Shrestha, director of the company.
“Many mountaineers visited Nepal to climb the mountains in the spring this year even when Nepal was witnessing a massive spread of the coronavirus,” he said. “They are now coming to Nepal without fear as they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.”
As per rules set by the Nepali government, unvaccinated foreign tourists should have quarantined for ten days and taken a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test. “In the case of fully vaccinated foreign tourists, it will be enough that they undertake a PCR test,” said Bhattarai.