A group of Chinese mountaineers has begun an expedition on Everest while the site is closed to foreign climbers because of coronavirus.
Only Chinese climbers are permitted this spring season because of the pandemic, operators told the BBC.
The highest peak of the world stands on the border of China and Nepal and can be climbed from both sides.
China has closed its side to foreign climbers while Nepal has cancelled all expeditions in response to Covid-19.
The disease first emerged in central China three months ago. Around 3,300 people have so far died in the country after becoming infected.
China says it has now all but stopped the spread of the disease and the authorities have started to allow some access to Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the outbreak began.
The more than two dozen Chinese climbers tackling Mount Everest were expected to reach the advanced base camp at an altitude of 6,450 metres (four miles) on Friday, expedition operators in touch with the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) said.
CTMA officials could not be reached for comment.
Mountaineering record-keepers say that if the climbers make it to the summit, it would be a very rare case of only Chinese climbers at the peak.
"In Spring 1960, only the Chinese reached the summit. The Indians tried, but failed," said Richard Salisbury, with the Himalayan Database, an organisation that keeps records of all expeditions in the Himalayas.
"There were various Chinese recon, research and training climbs from 1958 through 1967 when nobody else was on the mountain, but no ascents by any of them."
Western expedition operators said China did not allow them to climb this spring season due to fears over a new outbreak of the virus.