With China lifting its international travel restrictions, Nepal has seen a huge surge in Chinese climbers for Everest this year. 96 Everest aspirants from China got their permit from Nepal this year, taking the total number of Everest permit for 2023 to 454.
China restricted mobility of its citizens for three consecutive years, which ended this March. 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. Expedition organizers said that this occasion has prompted many Chinese climbers to attempt its summit this year.
In the 70 years history of Everest expedition, American climbers have always been the largest in number, followed by Indians and British climbers. They have been overtaken for the first time this year by the windfall of Chinese climbers. A total of 87 Americans has received climbing permits so far. “This is the first time that Chinese climbers have topped the list,” said Bigyan Koirala, official at the Department of Tourism (DoT).
Nepal had issued 408 permits in 2021 as the mountains remained shut in 2020 due to COVID pandemic. Nepal had issued 381 climbing permits in 2019, which itself was a record number then. The number of Everest permit has been going steadily up since the past few years, except for the dips created by the pandemic during 2020 and 2022.
The Department expects the number of final permits issued for this year to be around 475 as some climbers receive permits at the last minute. In recent year, climbers acclimatize at home in a hypoxic tent, a low oxygen tent meant to mimic the thin air at high altitude, and then obtain their permits during the tail end of the season.
With constant spike in the number of climbers, there is always speculation about traffic jam at Everest. “Traffic jam depends on the weather window in the mountain. It has nothing to do with climbing permits,” said Koirala.
In 2019, at least three deaths were attributed to traffic jam at the death zone.
Given the number of permits this year, about 1,000 people will be climbing Everest next month.As the rope fixing team has secured the line up to Camp IV, the route to the summit will be open by first week of May. Expedition groups attempt to climb the peak throughout the month of May depending on weather.