Mount Everest is currently closed — at least for commercial climbers — amid the Coronavirus outbreak. But this situation is ideal for scientists who are now taking advantage of the “empty” peak.
The official Xinhua News Agency of China has revealed that a survey team from the country’s Ministry of National Resources was sent to Everest back in early March. The agency announced this just now, on April 30th.
The team consists of 53 members, and it is not clear when they are expected to reach the mountain’s top.
The team will use the BeiDou Navigation Sattelite System and locally developed surveying systems to determine Everest’s current height and natural resources, reports The Washington Times.
They will also measure weather, wind speed, and snow depths to “facilitate glacier monitoring and ecological protection.”
China and Nepal both shut down the spring climbing season on March 11th and 12th respectively. Adrian Ballinger, a high-altitude mountaineer from Alpenglow Expeditions, explained the measures in his official statement:
“In high altitude conditions, where breathing is already a challenge, the novel coronavirus, which attacks the respiratory system, could be life-threatening.”
“The tight-knit basecamp communities where climbers assemble before summiting would also be susceptible to a rapid spread of the viral infection.”