Mount Everest records first COVID case, somehow

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Believe it or not, COVID has found its way to one of the most remote places on earth, Mount Everest.
Believe it or not, COVID has found its way to one of the most remote places on earth, Mount Everest.
Image: Getty Images

You would think some remote corners of the earth are naturally protected from a global pandemic. Uh, think again. According to Outside, Mount Everest has an expedition member who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Everest is one of the last places on the planet to be exposed to the virus. Even Antarctica recorded its first case in December.

So nowhere is safe, I guess.

The alpinist arrived at the base camp 17,300 feet above sea level with his expedition team, who thought he could be suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) a life-threatening form of altitude sickness. The patient was then airlifted to a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he tested positive for the coronavirus. Apparently, COVID and HAPE have similar symptoms. When the rest of the expedition team heard the news, they began quarantining.


At the onset of the pandemic, the Napalese government suspended tourist visas and canceled spring climbing trips. Now, after a year-long visitor ban, Everest is open to alpinists. And while there was just one case in the base camp, the world’s tallest mountain in an isolated range might be the worst place for an outbreak. “I think the risks are really high, and people are taking a gamble if they climb,” Outside Everest correspondent Alan Arnette told the site.

Just climbing Everest seems dangerous enough as is. But there’s still demand from mountaineers who want to scale the world’s largest summit. This year, the government issued 338 permits to climb the mountain. For comparison sake, 382 permits were granted in 2019.


The pandemic has also created a boom in outdoor sports participation. Not, like, deadly mountain climbing participation — but a surge in outdoor recreation due to pandemic guidelines. Participation in sports like running, hiking, and cycling all increased since Americans first heard lockdown orders. Other socially distant sports like skateboarding, tennis, and golf also had a surprisingly good 2020.

So keep playing outside. Run a few miles, take a day trip to a trail, play 18 if you have a few extra bucks. Everest will be around next year, too.