FILE PHOTO: Mount Everest, the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen through an aircraft window during a mountain flight from Kathmandu, Nepal January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Monika Deupala/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

A team of eight Chinese surveyors has summited Mt. Everest, making them the first to do so in 2020. According to Chinese media outlets, the team’s mission was to re-measure the height of the mountain.  

The successful summit comes two months after China and Nepal closed the mountain to tourists and foreign climbers due to coronavirus concerns. Nepal earns about $4.4 million per year from climbers and permit fees, with closures straining the local economy. The country recorded a continuous climb in new coronavirus cases in May, leaving many Nepalis stranded without food or pay. Sherpas and the vendors that support them are similarly experiencing the economic impacts.

Chinese officials have taken the lack of crowding on the mountain as an opportunity to clean up trash, as well as set up equipment for Beidou, the Chinese competitor to U.S.-operated GPS satellites. The data will reportedly be used to monitor weather, snow depth, and wind speed.

Nepal’s official height vs. China’s official height – Source: BBC 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Chinese team scale Everest during pandemic – BBC News – 5/27/2020
The all-Chinese summiting of Everest comes just when China is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its first successful ascent of the peak. Western expedition operators said mandatory quarantine for foreign climbers and suspended flights to Tibet due to lock down meant they could not go ahead with their expeditions.

Man Who Was Supposed to Climb Mount Everest Hikes Distance on His Apartment Stairs Instead – People – 5/11/2020
A London man couldn’t climb Mount Everest as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he got creative and found a way to “hike” the world’s highest mountain from the safety of his own home. After Rob Ferguson’s trip to the 29,035-foot mountain was postponed, the 51-year-old decided to follow through with his plans by climbing an equivalent distance on the stairs in his apartment building instead, according to USA Today.

I’m an Everest Guide, and I’m Worried About the Future of Climbing – Condé Nast Traveler – 5/26/2020
A lot of guides I know work on a contract basis. It’s not like the U.S.; there is no unemployment insurance for out-of-work climbing sherpas in Nepal. Some of the guiding companies are trying to raise funds for their staff, but if you’re not climbing, you’re not getting paid. The trekking and climbing industries are badly impacted. Local people are trying to minimize their costs and curb spending. Normally they grow and sell potatoes to tea houses for trekkers and expeditions; now that they can’t sell the potatoes, they’re eating them as survival food.

When the air is clean – Nepali Times – 5/15/2020
The reduction of vehicular emission due to the COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned the air over Nepal and northern India. So much so that the Himalaya is visible from Chandigarh, Kangchenjunga is visible from Siliguri. And for the first time in many years, Mt Everest can be seen again from Kathmandu Valley even though it is 200km away.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Global Times on Twitter, 5/27/2020: Chinese team successfully completes re-measurement work for the world’s highest mountain, Mount Qomolangma, also known as Mt #Everest in the West, using new homegrown technology

Conde Nast Traveler on Twitter, 5/27/2020: “There’s no way to abide by social distancing while climbing.”

Frederick News-Post on Twitter, 5/27/2020: Man plans to ‘bike Everest’ to fight student homelessness in Frederick

BBC Radio Lincolnshire on Twitter, 5/27/2020: Well done on the Everest Stair Climb Rob. Thanks for coming on the radio to tell us about it.

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