Scientists from China are taking advantage of Mount Everest being closed to hikers to give the peak a spring clean.
The world’s highest peak is empty of commercial climbers after China and Nepal cancelled spring climbing on their sides of the mountain to limit the spread of coronavirus.
China has now sent scientists to carry out survey work and work is also underway to clear rubbish from the usually-busy mountain.
The official Xinhua News Agency said a 53-member team from the Ministry of National Resources had been conducting preliminary scientific work since early March and survey work on the mountain is due to start this month.
It is not known when the team will reach the top of the mountain.
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China’s network of Beidou satellites will be used in a survey to determine the mountain’s current height and natural resources, along with other domestically developed surveying technology, the agency reported.
The lack of climbers is also allowing authorities to collect rubbish from Everest and other popular climbing peaks.
Survey work will also measure snow depth, weather and wind speed to “facilitate glacier monitoring and ecological protection”, the Xinhua News Agency said.
The People’s Republic of China has conducted six major surveys of the mountain locally known as Qomolangma, Xinhua said.
They have registered its height at 8,848.13 metres (29,029 feet) in 1975 and 8,844.43 metres (29,017 feet) in 2005.
Mount Everest was closed to commercial climbers in March in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus, as expedition teams travel to the region and live for weeks in tightly-packed camps at high altitudes with little access to emergency medical help.