As Nepal is scrambling to find enough oxygen for a swelling number of COVID-19 patients, the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has also taken the initiative to collect oxygen cylinders from mountaineers.
According to the association, around 5,000 oxygen cylinders are being used by mountaineers for climbing the world’s tallest Mt. Qomolangma and other Himalayan peaks at the moment.
The cylinders with mountaineers are light in weight, portable and can supply oxygen for three to four hours to the climbers at a high altitude, according to expedition organizers.
Office bearers of the NMA said they are holding discussions with expedition organizing companies about the possibility of the mountaineers handing over their cylinders.
Nepal’s Department of Tourism has issued a total of 408 permits for climbers aiming for Mt. Qomolangma, with another 740 permits for those attempting to climb other Himalayan mountains.
Though the Nepali Sherpa guides and some others do not need climbing permits, they have to take oxygen with them as well.
Santa Bir Lama, president of the NMA, told Xinhua on Monday that in initial discussions, some expedition organizers responded that they would talk about the matter later “as almost all oxygen cylinders are currently on the mountains.”
Most of the climbers are expected to return in the third and fourth week of May.
The NMA has, however, handed over some old oxygen cylinders used by mountaineers to the National Innovation Center Nepal, a non-profit organization established by Nepali innovator Mahabir Pun that has been producing medical equipment for the fight against COVID-19.