“We can’t just extend climbing permits on basis of Covid rumors,” Mr. Tamang said.

“Whether their expeditions were canceled because of Covid-19 or not, that should be examined,” he said.

With very few Sherpas having been vaccinated when they arrived at base camp, dozens contracted Covid-19. Some were airlifted out. Others isolated in their pup tents and climbed to higher camps after recovering.

Phunuru Sherpa of International Mountain Guides said 10 Sherpa guides on his team fell sick with Covid-19.

Of the more than 400 foreign climbers attempting to scale Everest, almost half abandoned their expeditions, either because of Covid-19 infections or because of a cyclone that caused snowstorms in the Himalayas.

Scott Simper, a climber from Utah who lives in New Zealand, reached Everest’s peak on May 11, according to his wife, Anna Keeling, a mountain guide.

“He didn’t know he had Covid on the mountain,” she said. Mr. Simper learned of his infection only after testing positive days later in Kathmandu, where his expedition company quarantined him at a hotel for 12 days. His wife said he was still recovering from the disease.

Mr. Ness, the Norwegian climber who described his bout with Covid-19 on social media, was airlifted from base camp to a hospital in Kathmandu. Doctors advised him not to return to the mountain, so he flew home to Norway. The Everest expedition had taken three years to plan and cost him $40,000, plus hospital fees in Nepal. He does not expect to get any money back.

Mario Celinic of Croatia said he tested positive at Everest base camp. He had trained for Everest for four years, climbing some of the world’s other highest peaks. Suffering no symptoms, he decided to proceed to the top.

“‘You have Covid and you must be careful,’ this came into my mind, because Covid affects the lungs and that would be difficult to breathe above 8,000 meters’ altitude,” he said.

“That mountain is like a beautiful flower that will kill you anytime. It attracts you. You must come, you are admired. And when you go up to 8,000 meters, you are completely helpless. Whatever the mountain decides, that will be your fate,” Mr. Celinic said.

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu, and Emily Schmall from New Delhi.

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Several Everest Climbers Test Positive for Covid

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A prominent mountaineering company abandoned its expedition to Mount Everest, dismantling its tents at base camp on Saturday after members of its team tested positive for the coronavirus.

An American climber and three Sherpa guides from a 51-person expedition were evacuated from base camp and hospitalized in Kathmandu, according to Ang Tendi Sherpa, managing director of the local agency that obtained the permit for the expedition.

“Rest of the climbers felt insecure,” Mr. Sherpa said. “That’s why the expedition was canceled.”

A second wave of the coronavirus is ravaging Nepal, overwhelming its feeble health care system. On Saturday, the authorities reported 8,167 new cases and 187 deaths.

On the peaks, the spread of the virus is unclear, but signs of trouble are growing.

Starting this month, hundreds of foreign climbers, Sherpas and other support staff have lived at Everest’s high-altitude base camp, preparing for an ascent to the world’s tallest peak. More and more of them are presenting with Covid symptoms, and testing positive with rapid antigen tests undertaken by three doctors Nepal’s government posted to base camp, according to Lukas Furtenbach, the managing director of Furtenbach Adventures, which organized the canceled expedition.

virus safeguards imposed before the climbing season have worked.

died in the thin air close to Everest’s peak. Officials immediately ruled out Covid. Because of the remote location of the bodies, no autopsies were planned.

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2 Climbers Die on Everest as Covid Rampages Through Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Two climbers, a Swiss-Pakistani and an American, have died on Mount Everest, the first fatalities of a busy climbing season as a second wave of the coronavirus batters Nepal.

The expedition company that organized their climbs, Seven Summit Treks, said both men were experienced mountaineers who lost consciousness around Mount Everest’s “death zone,” an area above 8,000 meters (about 26,000 feet) named for its thin air and brutal weather.

When the climbers died on Wednesday, the wind had picked up on Everest. Climbing tourists and most of the Nepalese guides who aid them turned away from the summit on Thursday as weather conditions grew more severe.

Puwei Liu, 55, an experienced climber from California, died at the first camp below the peak after making an unsuccessful summit attempt on Wednesday, according to Chhang Dawa Sherpa, a Seven Summit Treks director.

hourslong traffic jams that can occur on the overcrowded path to the peak.

Nepal’s tourism department and the agency that organized their expedition ruled out any possible link to the coronavirus that is ravaging the small Himalayan country. Instead, they blamed high-altitude sickness. However, as with many of the hundreds who have died attempting Everest, no autopsies were planned, because of the bodies’ remote locations.

“No Covid. They died of altitude sickness. Had they Covid, they wouldn’t be able to reach at that height,” said Mingma Sherpa, Seven Summit Treks’ chairman.

virus safeguards imposed before the climbing season have worked.

Off the peaks, Nepal’s health care system is under incredible strain because of a rash of new cases, mirroring the ferocity of the second wave in neighboring India.

With hospitals running out of beds, vaccine in short supply and infections rising faster than clinics can record them, Nepal’s health ministry deemed the situation “unmanageable” last week.

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Nepal to Use Oxygen Tanks From Everest to Treat Covid Patients

As hospitals in Nepal strain to cope with one of the world’s fastest-growing coronavirus outbreaks, relief groups in the Himalayan nation are asking mountain climbers to hand over their used oxygen cylinders so that they can be refilled for Covid-19 patients.

The unusual appeal reflects the strange duality in Nepal: While hundreds of foreign climbers are attempting costly expeditions to the summits of Mount Everest and other peaks, the impoverished nation down below is facing urgent shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen, coronavirus test kits and other supplies.

Expedition operators are preparing to airlift thousands of cylinders from the Himalayas as expeditions are completed this month, the culmination of the climbing season. Kul Bahadur Gurung, general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, estimated that tour companies would be able to provide at least 4,000 cylinders by the first week of June.

“We are asking them not to leave even a single oxygen cylinder in the mountains,” Mr. Gurung said.

Climbers attempting to reach the top of Everest, the world’s tallest peak, and other mountains carry oxygen to help them breathe in the thin air. Although Nepal prohibits leaving equipment behind in the mountains, canisters are sometimes left buried in the snow by exhausted climbers or stashed by expedition companies for later use.

catastrophic surge in India, with which it shares a long, porous border. On May 1, Nepal reported 26 deaths from the virus. On Tuesday, the official death toll was 225.

Doctors say that a shortage of medical oxygen is a factor in many of the deaths. Many hospitals have stopped admitting new Covid-19 patients, citing a lack of oxygen. Wealthy families are airlifting their loved ones by chartered helicopter to cities where they can find intensive-care beds. Other patients are being treated in makeshift emergency facilities set up in parking lots and other open spaces.

With almost half of Nepal’s coronavirus tests coming back positive, health experts warn that the worst is yet to come.

China has pledged to provide Nepal with 20,000 oxygen cylinders and 100 ventilators, the first batch of which arrived on Tuesday.

Expedition companies are stepping in with smaller donations. Mr. Gurung’s group said that he was sending five dozen cylinders, along with a few more from a local mountaineering museum, to hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Seven Summit Treks, Nepal’s largest expeditions operator, said that he planned to ship as many as 500 cylinders used in expeditions to Everest and other peaks soon after climbers descended to base camps.

“My only condition is that those cylinders should be used for poor and helpless people rather than V.I.P.s,” he said, adding: “It’s our responsibility to help the government during these trying times. We will do it happily.”

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Several Mount Everest Climbers Test Positive for Coronavirus

Nepal’s coronavirus outbreak, which is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world, has spread to the remote Himalayas, with an increasing number of climbers testing positive after being evacuated from the base camps of Mount Everest and surrounding peaks.

In recent weeks, several climbers have been flown out of Mount Everest Base Camp after reporting symptoms of Covid-19, then tested positive after reaching Kathmandu, the capital. On Wednesday, Nepali news outlets reported that 14 climbers, including foreigners and Sherpa guides, were being airlifted from Mount Dhaulagiri, another major peak, to Kathmandu for treatment after some were found to be infected.

The cases have raised fears for the safety of climbers and their Nepali guides who are pushing ahead with expeditions in the forbidding, high-altitude terrain, where doctors say they are already vulnerable to illness, lower blood oxygen levels and weaker immunity. Hundreds of climbers and Sherpas are isolating in their tents in gusty conditions at Everest base camp, trying to guard against infection while preparing to begin their ascent to the 29,000-foot summit.

Nepal’s government — determined to revive its lucrative mountaineering industry after a total shutdown last year — continues to deny that there is any outbreak at Everest base camp and has released no information about the number of climbers who have been evacuated. The government has granted 408 permits to scale the world’s tallest peak, the most in any year since the first recorded summit in 1953, earning millions of dollars in royalties.

Infections are exploding in Nepal, from fewer than 100 per day in early March to more than 7,500 on Tuesday, the most the country has recorded since the pandemic began. The surge has come at the same time as the devastating outbreak in neighboring India, and foreign climbers could have been infected while passing through Kathmandu in March and April en route to the mountains.

Erlend Ness, a Norwegian climber, said he fell ill at Everest base camp last month and was evacuated by helicopter and ambulance to a hospital in Kathmandu.

“I tested positive at the hospital on the same day I arrived in Kathmandu from the mountains,” Mr. Ness said by telephone from Oslo, where doctors told him he couldn’t return to Nepal this year.

Another climber, Steve Davis, chronicled his airlift from base camp last month and subsequent positive test on his blog. Mr. Davis remains in Nepal, where the government has banned domestic and international flights as part of its latest lockdown.

wrote on Facebook that more than 30 people who had difficulty breathing had been airlifted by helicopter to Kathmandu — and “later found to be positive for coronavirus.”

The Nepalese Health Ministry warned last week that “hospitals have run out of beds,” but the authorities have said they would not cancel expeditions.

Rudra Singh Tamang, the tourism department’s director general, said that elite Sherpas this week would finish installing a rope to help climbers reach the Everest summit.

“Expeditions won’t be canceled,” said Mr. Tamang, who has tested positive for the virus and is self-isolating. “Everest is an isolated area, so there’s no risk of coronavirus.”

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Climbers Return to Mount Everest With Covid-19 Precautions

After Nepal was forced to close its mountain trails last year, dealing its economy a devastating blow, the tiny Himalayan country has reopened Mount Everest and its seven other 26,200-foot-plus peaks in the hope of a rebound.

For this year’s climbing season, from March to May, Nepal has granted more than 300 climbers the licenses needed to ascend the world’s tallest peak. Many of those climbers hope to reach the summit, 5.5 miles above sea level.

But as the coronavirus resurges in South Asia, the pandemic has made the already deadly climb even more hazardous. Local officials have instituted testing, mask and social-distancing requirements, stationed medical personnel at the Mount Everest Base Camp, and made plans to swoop in and pick up infected climbers. Climbers are typically greeted in Kathmandu with raucous parties thrown by expedition staffers. But not this year.

“No party. No handshake. No hug. Just ‘Namaste,’” said Lakpa Sherpa, whose agency is taking 19 climbers to Everest this spring, referring to the South Asian greeting.

coronavirus vaccination efforts are faltering, is taking a calculated risk. In 2019, tourism brought in $2 billion in revenue and employed about a million people. For tens of thousands of Nepalis, the three-month climbing season is the only opportunity for paid work.

The damage from last year’s closure was immense. At least 1.5 million people in the country of 30 million lost jobs or substantial income during the pandemic, according to Nepal’s National Planning Commission.

Porters who usually cart supplies and gear up the peaks for well-paying foreign climbers were forced to subsist on government handouts of rice and lentils. Expert expedition guides, many of whom are members of Nepal’s Sherpa tribe, returned to their villages in the remote mountains and grew potatoes to survive.

“We have no other options,” said Rudra Singh Tamang, the head of Nepal’s tourism department. “We need to save the mountaineering economy.”

Still, tourism ministry officials and expedition agencies acknowledge that Nepal has no clear plan to test or isolate climbers if one tests positive for the virus.

At the airport in Kathmandu, the capital, incoming travelers must show negative RT-PCR test results or provide vaccination certificates. Climbers initially had to get additional insurance, adding to the average $50,000 price tag to climb Everest, although the government has loosened that requirement.

Despite the challenges, the climbing season has drawn some high-profile mountaineers, including a Bahraini prince with a large entourage, a Qatari who wants to be the first woman from her nation to make the climb, and a former National Football League wide receiver who is aiming to become the oldest N.F.L. player to summit the world’s seven tallest peaks.

“I wanted to be there,” said the former player, Mark Pattison, 59, “in Nepal, this spring, at any cost.”

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Climbers Return to Mt. Everest Despite Covid-19

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Mark Pattison played wide receiver for three National Football League teams in the 1980s. Now he wants to fulfill another dream: to climb all seven of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest.

To prepare, Mr. Pattison, 59, packed weatherproof outerwear, polarized goggles and ice crampons. But he is climbing Mount Everest in the midst of a global pandemic. He has supplemented his usual gear with face masks, gloves and sanitizer. He took out extra insurance to pay for a rescue if Covid-19 strikes.

The coronavirus is resurging in South Asia, but Mr. Pattison is undaunted. “I wanted to be there,” he said, “in Nepal, this spring, at any cost.”

Nepal has reopened Mount Everest and its seven other 26,200-foot-plus peaks in the hope of a mountain-climbing rebound. The tiny Himalayan country was forced to close trails last year, dealing its economy a devastating blow. For this year’s climbing season, from March to May, Nepal has granted more than 300 climbers the licenses needed to ascend Mount Everest. Many of those climbers hope to reach the summit, 5.5 miles above sea level.

11 deaths in 2019 — even more hazardous. Local officials have instituted testing, mask and social-distancing requirements, stationed medical personnel at the Mount Everest Base Camp and made plans to swoop in and pick up infected climbers. Climbers are typically greeted in Kathmandu with raucous parties thrown by expedition staffers. But not this year.

to suspend its vaccination program before a donation of 800,000 doses from China, its other giant neighbor, allowed it to resume. Still, it won’t be able to administer a second regimen to the 1.7 million who already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Despite potential problems, the climbing season kicked off at the end of March, after the first expedition left Kathmandu. From there, climbers travel by plane to Lukla, the town that serves as the starting point for the 10-day trek to base camp. Once at camp, they spend weeks there acclimating to the altitude and waiting for a window of clear weather to attempt the summit.

Sandro Gromen-Hayes, a filmmaker who documented a British Army expedition of Everest in 2017, said Thamel, the area of Kathmandu popular with broke backpackers, was quieter this year.

“It was swarmed with trekkers and climbers and stoners and everything in between,” he said of his previous visit. “Now Thamel is much quieter.”

Mr. Gromen-Hayes, 31, came to Nepal from Pakistan, where he filmed an expedition on K2, the world’s second highest peak, which is known because of its ferocious winds as “the savage mountain.” Usually bereft of climbers in winter, it saw dozens of top mountaineers who had been cooped up for months in virus lockdowns and then flocked to K2 in December to make an attempt.

Among the climbing community, “I don’t think a lot of people are concerned about the corona angle,” he said.

Some climbers, like Mr. Pattison, the former N.F.L. player, said they were drawn to Mount Everest this year because they assumed it would be less crowded. But Nepal expects more climbers to apply for licenses beyond the more than 300 who have already, said Mira Acharya, the director of Nepal’s tourism department.

Mr. Pattison plans to trek in surgical gloves and gown, trading in his face mask for an oxygen mask only when he begins the arduous climb from base camp to the peak.

The record books are motivating Mr. Pattison. He has already climbed the six other peaks on the other continents. Should he climb Mt. Everest, he will be the oldest N.F.L. player to have surmounted the Seven Summits, as the peaks are known, and the first to climb Everest and then clamber up neighboring Lhotse, at 27,940 feet the world’s fourth-highest peak, within 24 hours.

“I’ve been at this for nine years,” Mr. Pattison said. Despite the pandemic, he added, “I’m ready to go.”

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu, Nepal, and Emily Schmall from New Delhi.

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