According to the official report released by the Nepali government in May, since 1953, over six thousand brave mountaineers have successfully climbed the Mt Everest.
In March earlier this year, the Nepal government had decided to cancel the climbing season at the Mt Everest due to coronavirus. (Reuters file photo)
It was May 2019. Life was going on as usual. US President was denying climate change. The largest democracy in the world had handed out a thumping victory to Narendra Modi for the second time and pop culture was having a meltdown over a disastrous series finale of ‘Game of Thrones’. But something peculiar was happening atop Mt Everest, the highest mountain on the Earth. Nobody could believe it. There was a ‘traffic jam’ on the ‘peak of heaven’! The photo of trekkers, lined up on the mountain top, battling for their lives instantly went viral.
Cut to November 2020. The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it. There is no cure, no perfect answer as to when will all this end. While most of us are hunkered in our homes, the ‘Mount Sagarmatha’ turned into a freezing, lonely, haunted hill.
Coronavirus pandemic has struck the economy of the Himalayan nation and wiped out the tourism sector in Nepal, almost completely. In March earlier this year, the Nepal government had decided to cancel the climbing season at the Mt Everest due to coronavirus. Later, China also announced that it will shut down the trekking business from its side of the Mt Everest.
Shutting down Mt Everest’s trekking business has put Nepal’s economy in a very problematic situation. Sample this: According to the official report released by the Nepali government in May, since 1953, over six thousand brave mountaineers have successfully climbed the Mt Everest. But the numbers are extremely dismal in 2020. According to ‘Everest Today’, a well-known blog that chronicles everything about Sagarmatha, official data released by the Nepal Mountaineering Association, there has been a trickle of foreign trekkers applying for permits. Only five permits have been issued so far. Two Belgians, a trekker from Baharain and two Nepali citizens have been given the permits so far. This is almost nothing when compared to 2019 numbers.
At that time, in May, over 200, climbers were at atop the Mt Everest on one single day creating a new world record. The Sherpas, the guides, porters, hotels, and other business operations of the once-thriving tourism sector of Nepal have become a relic of the before corona world. A National Geographic report says that Mt Everest and the climbing business helped Nepal with $300 million contributions to its economy. All that has gone now. People are either back to farming or doing other odd jobs. Environmentalists are, however, happy that ‘Chomolungma’ is back to its natural glory with no human activity polluting its pristine atmosphere. In terms of coronavirus pandemic, Nepal on Monday registered nearly three thousand infections.