Himalayan News: Second Summit in Shimshal, Nepal Closes Again

COVID-19 Himalaya
Illustration of Shimshan Valley climbing by team member Jurek Nierychło.

Three days was all Felix Berg and his SummitClimb team needed to complete their double-header. After their first success last Thursday, they bagged an even higher and more demanding unclimbed peak (6,105m) on Saturday, in ideal weather. Now they are back in base camp, with a week left and the whole Shimshal valley virtually to themselves. Now, the five Europeans and Pakistani Mirza Ali are free to just look around and pick their next choice, since peaks under 6,500m require no climbing permit in Pakistan.

Their original goal had been been Khan Tengri, but because of the pandemic, they were not allowed to enter Kyrgyzstan. But they stayed flexible, and when Pakistan opened its mountains, the climbers jumped on the opportunity. They all had negative COVID tests before arriving.

The Muchu Chhish expedition acclimatizes at a 4,200m bivouac.

The first climbing permit of Pakistan’s 2020 season was issued last week to the Czech team aiming for 7,453m Muchu Chhish, which of course does require a permit. Pavel “Kořen” Kořínek, Pavel “Doktor” Bém and Jiří “Punkáč” Janák (they call themelves Kořen, Doctor and Punk) trekked toward Hunza’s Batura area, where Muchu Chhish is located.

Yesterday, Kořen injured himself in a very 2020s-style incident, not with the mountain, but with a drone that crashed into his hand. “Drone survived the encounter with two broken propellers and Kořen with a badly injured hand…Punk managed to fix the drone, Doktor managed to fix Kořen’s hand, and so the show goes on,” the team posted archly on FB.

Muchu Chhish expedition member Kören, piloting the expedition drone, or at least trying to. Photo: From the expedition’s FB page

Unfortunately, hope has faded for those hoping to get to Nepal in September. According to authorities, Kathmandu’s airport will open only partially, mainly for diplomatic personnel and Nepali citizens returning home. No mention of tourists. That news was the final straw for Spain’s Sergi Mingote, who has confirmed that his plans for Makalu and his No-O2 8,000’ers project will have to wait for better times.

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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