Mount Everest

Coronavirus Kills Everest: China Shuts Down Tibet Climbs

Over fears of an outbreak of COVID-19 around base camp, China halted all Everest expeditions from the north side of the mountain.

Adrian Ballinger’s Alpenglow Expeditions announced today it was halting all Everest summit treks on news China would prohibit all access to the mountain from the Tibet side.

“This is heartbreaking news, especially for our clients who have trained so hard and invested so much in chasing the climb of a lifetime,” Ballinger said. “While canceling a climb is never an outcome we want, this time, it’s the responsible thing to do.”

Ballinger, CEO of Alpenglow, noted that any Everest expedition taxes climbers’ respiratory capacity. So on the mountain, a coronavirus infection could quickly prove life-threatening. What’s more, Everest base camps put numerous climbers in close proximity, heightening the possibility of a rapidly spreading outbreak.

Alpenglow also said it would not switch its planned expedition over to the Nepal (southern) side of Everest.

“Nepal may follow China’s lead and shut down their season as well,” Ballinger explained. “Even if they don’t, the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak and the underlying issues of ascending from the south side, including the lack of effective management, overcrowding, and an unpredictable icefall, make such an expedition unsafe in our eyes. It’s not a gamble we’re willing to

At this time, there’s no word on whether Nepal will also shut down expeditions from its side of Everest. We will update this story as it develops. Check out our updated list of shows and events that have been postponed or canceled due to coronavirus fears here.

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.