Everest: Avalanche Blocking the Khumbu Icefall? COVID in Base Camp

A climber navigates the Khumbu Icefall this year. Photo: Simon Ferrier-May

UPDATE, April 21: It seems that the route through the Khumbu Icefall is undamaged and that teams will be climbing to Camp 1 as usual. Such misunderstandings often happen in Base Camp. 

Earlier today, it appeared that avalanches from the West Shoulder might have damaged the route through the Khumbu Icefall. Nineteen-year-old Shehroze Kashif of Pakistan, the youngest on the mountain this season, filmed the serac falling. First reports suggested that the route through the Icefall was blocked for climbers, but further news was contradictory. It now seems that the route remains intact.

Today’s avalanche on Everest. Video frame: Shehroze Kashif

Only yesterday, the Khumbu Icefall caused the first rescue operation of the season in the mountain. A flying chunk of ice struck an unknown climber, prompting a dramatic rescue “with helicopters flying in and out of the Icefall and multiple longline attempts,” Elia Saikaly reported. The Canadian photographer, who was also on winter K2, has come to Everest to film an all-Sherpa team. 

Helicopter over Everest. Photo: Elia Saikaly

This year, only few climbers have stated their intention to go without O2: Simon Ferrier-May, Csaba Varga, Colin O’Brady, Arjun Vajpal, and the twosome Roland Van Oss and Sanna Raistakka.

Ferrier-May has already completed a first rotation up to Camp 1 and then moved down valley to climb Lobuche Peak. He told ExplorersWeb that summiting Lobuche was much easier than reaching Camp 1 on Everest with a heavy backpack. Ferrier-May is sharing a permit with a small team but climbing at his own pace and establishing his own camps. He also shot some video from the Icefall.

We asked the British climber how he managed to reach Nepal with the UK still under severe restrictions for foreign travel. “This is partially how I make my living,” he explained. “Traveling for work is allowed in the UK, so here I am.” Ferrier-May, 27, is aiming to become the youngest British person to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen.

Simon Ferrier-May on the summit of Lobuche two days ago. Photo: Simon Ferrier-May

Kilian Jornet to do Everest-Lhotse traverse?

It’s been a while since rumors swirled about mountain runner Kilian Jornet’s plans to “do something” on Everest. At first, he intended to “explore” Everest’s West Ridge, as Jost Kobusch did in January 2020. Then he obtained a permit for Lhotse, which suggested that he might want to redo Ueli Steck’s version of the Everest-Lhotse Traverse, linking the West Ridge, summit of Everest, South Col, Lhotse, and back to Base Camp. As usual with Jornet, he and his press team are keeping all news close to the vest — except the birth of Jornet’s second daughter last week.

Kilian Jornet skiing with his eldest daughter, who now has a new baby sister. Photo: Kilian Jornet

Finally, we should note that after a long, flat period, the number of COVID cases in Nepal started soaring again at the beginning of April. The casualty rate remains low, thanks to Nepal’s relatively young population (average age, 24.6 years old), but the chaotic situation in neighboring India reminds us that the pandemic is far from gone around the Himalaya. And today, the first case of COVID was reported at Everest Base Camp. The unidentified person was evacuated to Kathmandu and their team back in Base Camp is in quarantine.

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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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Paul
Paul
15 days ago

Great coverage as always, Angela. Thanks!

I’m going to hang by a thread and bet that none of the no-O2 climbers are going to summit this year.

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Brooke wee
Brooke wee
14 days ago

Please don’t die.

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