By Agence France-Presse
The Himalayan hilltown of Khumjung should be bustling ahead of Everest’s climbing season, but the coronavirus has forced the shut down of the world’s tallest mountain and threatened the livelihood of the famed local Sherpas.
While there are no reported cases in the town — home to many of the ethnic Sherpas who dominate the industry helping climbers — the Himalayas have been closed by the global shutdown of borders and air travel.
Phurba Nyamgal Sherpa — who has been climbing Everest and other mountains since he was seventeen — is now worried about his future, like hundreds of other guides and expedition workers.
Ropes and picks are still hung up in the Khumjung houses with their green stone roofs. Hostels and tea shops in the region used by trekkers and climbers acclimatising for the start of the 8,848-metre (29,029 feet) ascension are empty.
Nepal suspended permits for all mountain expeditions on March 12, effectively closing its peaks.
That cost at least four million dollars in lost revenue from climbing permits. An Everest permit alone costs $11,000.
But Sherpa and other guides, who are often the sole breadwinners for their families, say they face a more desperate problem.
The Everest season from early April to the end of May feeds his family for the whole year.
Guides tend to earn between $5,000 and $10,000 during the season.