This article first appeared on http://explorersweb.com. The original can be read here.
The 26-strong Chinese team currently on Everest, the only one granted a permit this season amidst the COVID-19 confinement, has the opportunity to face the mountain in all its magnificent wildness, with only the wind as company, as no one has done in decades during the pre-monsoon season. It is a fitting way to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first Chinese ascent of the mountain’s north side.
Mount Everest, as seen from Chinese Base Camp on the new webcam
However, the team’s presence also coincides with a less romantic, more technological presence: In a joint venture, China Mobile and Huawei have managed to install three 5G antennas at Base Camp (5,300m) and at 5,800m on April 19. Yaks and porters carried more than eight tonnes of equipment, and “dozens” of technicians from the telecom giants fixed the antennas in place.
China Mobile claims that the whole peak will enjoy 5G coverage, beginning this Saturday, when two more 5G stations — the world’s highest — go up at a 6,500m.
Although there is no news about the climbing team’s progress on the mountain, no one is likely to reach the summit for several days yet.
Currently, webcams are streaming 4K HD live from 5,300m. One webcam points at the camp, the other at the peak. Other 360-degree VR cameras were installed nearby. “We want to give the Chinese people who are staying at home due to coronavirus a chance to enjoy panoramic views of the mountain’s beauty through cutting-edge technology,”
said Liao Hongfeng of China Telecom. Here in the West, we can view the webcam footage from China Daily’s Facebook page — somewhat ironically, since Facebook is blocked in China.
At work on Everest. Photo: China Telecom
The entire operation is bittersweet. It improves communication and allows better safety and easier logistics, but at the expense of some of the aura of “unreachable, furthermost” Everest. Somehow, the summit now looks less tall.