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Record-breaking female climber stranded in Nepal amid COVID crisis

KATHMANDU (Reuters): Hong Kong resident Tsang Yin-Hung, who made the fastest ascent of Mount Everest by any woman, and dozens of other mountaineers from China are unable to get out of Nepal because of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Beijing, they said.

Lixin Fan et al. sitting at a table: Chinese climbers stranded in Kathmandu due to COVID-19 restrictions© Reuters/NAVESH CHITRAKAR Chinese climbers stranded in Kathmandu due to COVID-19 restrictions

Nepal has had a surge of infections including at the base camp of Everest, prompting several countries to block travel from there. The daily positive rate of infections in Nepal stands at more than 24%, among the highest in the world at this time.

The travel restriction was imposed after the climbing season began and there were fresh outbreaks in Nepal.

Tsang, 44, who climbed Mount Everest in 25 hours and 50 minutes last month, said getting back home appeared harder than her ascent to the 8,848.86 metre (29,032 feet) peak.

“I think the summit climb for me was possible and achievable,” she told Reuters at her hotel in Kathmandu. “But going back home (looks) hopeless. There is no way to go back.”

Nepal officials say they have allowed two weekly flights from China, but these were not operational.

The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu did not immediately respond to a Reuters email on the lack of flights.

“There are no flights (from Nepal) to any place in China or Hong Kong,” she said.

Climbers from other countries have already returned on mainly chartered flights.

China’s Sun Yi Quan, 34, who climbed Everest thrice before but gave up on his fourth attempt in May due to a coronavirus outbreak at base camp, said his team of 13 climbers too had failed to get a flight back home.

Kathmandu has been partially shut down since May due to the surge in COVID-19 with 622,640 infections and 8,772 deaths in he nation so far.

Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, a senior official at the Seven Summit Treks company said more than 30 Chinese climbers were stranded in Kathmandu.