China bans tourists from Mount Everest base camp

China has banned the entry of visitors who don’t have climbing permits into the core zone of the Mount Everest National Nature reserve in Tibet to better conserve the environment of the world’s highest mountain.

But for travellers, who have a climbing permit, the mountaineering activities will not be affected, according to the reserve, which was set up in 1988.

Covering an area of around 33,800 square km, including a 10,312-square km core zone, the reserve is home to one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.

Recently, a report went viral online claiming the Qomolangma base camp was “permanently closed due to heavy pollution.”

But local authorities denied the claim.

In Tibet, the 8,848-metre high Mount Everest is called as Mount Qomolangma.

The deputy director with the reserve’s administration, Kelsang said ordinary tourists are banned from areas above Rongpo Monastery, around 5,000 metres above sea level.

A new tent camp will be set up nearly two-km away from the original one, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

Between April and October every year, villagers from Dingri County usually set up black tents at the foot of Mount Qomolangma, providing tourists accommodation as a means of earning money.

Though ordinary visitors can’t go beyond the monastery, it won’t affect them from appreciating the mountain.

“The new tent camp for ordinary tourists can still allow them to clearly see the 8,800-metre-plus mountain,” Kelsang said.

Travellers who have a climbing permit can go to the base camp at an altitude of 5,200 metres, Kelsang said, adding that the mountaineering activities have been approved by the regional forestry department.

Decades after the epic climb to the world’s peak, Tibetans at the foot of Mount Qomolangma have conquered poverty by receiving professional and amateur mountaineers and tourists, who have also posed an environmental challenge to the mountain.

To conserve the environment surrounding Mount Qomolangma, China carried out three major clean-ups at an altitude of 5,200 metres and above last spring, collecting more than eight tonnes of household waste, human faeces and mountaineering trash.

This year, the clean-up will continue and the remains of mountaineering victims, who died climbing or coming down the summit above 8,000 metres will be dealt with for the first time.

Meanwhile, the number of people who stay at the base camp will be kept under 300.

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