A Norwegian climber hoping to summit Mount Everest has tested positive for Covid-19, in a blow to Nepal’s hopes for a mountaineering season on the world’s highest peak.
The pandemic wiped out last year’s season but Nepal has eased quarantine rules in an effort to attract more climbers despite the difficulties of treating them if they contract the virus.
“My diagnosis is COVID-19,” Erlend Ness said. “I am doing ok now … The hospital is taking care (of me).”
Ness was evacuated from the slopes by helicopter and taken to a hospital in the Nepali capital Kathmandu after spending time at Everest base camp.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK, which interviewed him, reported that a Sherpa in his party had also tested positive.
“I really hope that none of the others get infected with corona high up in the mountains. It is impossible to evacuate people with a helicopter when they are above 8,000 metres [26,246 feet],” Ness told NRK.
A Nepalese mountaineering official denied there were any active cases on the mountains at the moment.
Mira Acharya, director at the Department of Mountaineering, said she had no official information about the Covid-19 cases and only reports of illnesses like pneumonia and altitude sickness.
Mountaineering was closed last year due to the pandemic and climbers returned to Everest this year for the first time since May 2019.
The popular spring climbing season in Nepal, which has eight of the highest peaks in the world, began in March and ends in May.