Among those heading to base camp this week is Adriana Brownlee, a British national who dropped out of Bath University to pursue a career climbing the world's toughest peaks. 

She said that the risk was worth it for the Nepalis and the climbers.

''They need that support from the climbing community,'' she said. ''It's good for the climbers as well, just for the sake of their mental health. They depend on this and I also do.''  

Mark Pattison played wide receiver for three National Football League teams in the 1980s. Now he wants to fulfill another dream : to climb all seven of the world's highest peaks, including Mount Everest.

To prepare, Mr. Pattison, 59, packed weatherproof outerwear, polarized goggles and ice crampons. 

But he is climbing Mount Everest, in the midst of a global pandemic. He has supplemented his usual gear with face masks, gloves and sanitizer. He took an extra insurance. He took out extra insurance to pay for a rescue, if Covid-19 strikes.

The coronavirus is resurging in South Asia, but Mr. Pattison is undaunted. ''I wanted to be there,'' he said, ''in Nepal, this spring, at any cost.''

Nepal has reopened Mount Everest and its seven other 26,200-foot-plus  peaks in the hope of a mountain-climbing rebound. The tiny Himalayan country was forced to close trails last year, dealing its economy a devastating blow.

For this year's climbing season, from March to May, Nepal has granted more than 300 climbers the licenses needed to ascend Mount Everest. Many of these climbers hope to reach the summit, 5.5 miles above sea level.

The pandemic has made the already deadly climb traffic on Mount Everest contributed to 11 deaths in 2019- even more hazardous.

Local officials have instituted testing mask and social distancing requirements, stationed medical personnel at the Mount Everest Base Camp and made plans to swoop in and pick up infected climbers.

Climbers are typically greeted in Kathmandu with raucous parties thrown by expedition staffers. But not this year.

''No party. No handshake. No hug. Just 'Namaste.'' said Lakpa Sherpa, whose agency is taking 19 climbers to Everest this spring, referring to the South Asian greeting.

Mr. Pattison's expedition has group and others will set off this week toward base camp. The climbing season has drawn some high-profile mountaineers, including a Bahraini prince with a large entourage and a Qatari who wants to be the first woman from her nation to make the climb.

Nepalese officials have have set new pandemic-era requirements for them. At the airport in Kathmandu, the capital, incoming travelers must show negative RT-PCR test results or provide vaccination certificates.

Climbers initially had to get an additional insurance, adding to average $50,000 price tag to climb Everest, though the government has loosened the requirement.

Among the climbing community, ''I don't think a lot of people are concerned about the corona angel,'' said Mr. Gromen-Hayes, 31, who came to Nepal from Pakistan.

Some climbers, like Mr. Pattison, the former N.F.I. player, said they were drawn to Mount Everest this year because they assumed it would be less crowded.

But more than 300 climbers have applied for licenses and more are expected, said Mira Acharya, the director of Nepal's tourism department.

Mr. Pattison plans to trek in surgical gloves and gown, trading in his face mask for an oxygen mask only when he begins the arduous climb to the peak.

The World Students Society thanks authors Bhadra Sharma and Emily Schmall.


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