Stop the Presses! Everest Visible from Kathmandu

Anyone who has visited teeming Kathmandu knows that air quality is not among the city’s many charms. With 2.5 million people and seemingly almost as many cars, Kathmandu typically rests beneath a blanket of smog. But just over a week ago, a strange sight appeared in the distance: Mount Everest. Most residents had never seen it before.

Credit COVID-19. With factories shut and few driving to work, Kathmandu was not only quieter, its air was almost pre-industrial — hence the view of Everest, looming almost 200km away.

According to one study cited by the Nepali Times, cars belch up to 70 percent of all particles in Kathmandu’s air. The graph below illustrates the rapid improvement in air quality after mid-April, leading to the remarkable view of Everest. The lower the horizontal line, the fewer particles in the air.


Alas for local Everest watchers, the brief lull in traffic has already ended, and haze has returned. Although the lockdown in Nepal is still in effect, more drivers are venturing out, as this recent video shows.