Dhaulagiri: Climbers Near Camp 2, Lavaud Tests Positive for COVID

A climber on a previous rotation trip above Camp 1 on Dhaulagiri. Photo: Topo Mena

Early today, a small group of climbers set off from Camp 1 on Dhaulagiri. Waldemar Kowalewski’s home team reports that conditions are tough because deep snow has buried the trail and the fixed ropes.  We expect further news soon, although the team’s trackers (such as Viridiana Alvarez’s below) locate them near Camp 2, at roughly 6,300m. Stefi Troguet’s tracker last connected yesterday, when she checked in from Camp 1.

Viridiana Alvarez’s tracker on Dhaulagiri at 1pm Nepal time.

Sophie Lavaud, who is leading an all-women’s expedition, is not among those heading up. Lavaud and her two Sherpas have contracted COVID. “The team from Annapurna spent six days in Pokhara and none of them was tested before getting into the helicopters that brought them here,” she said. “What a lethal mistake.”

Woman climber and Sherpa holding sponsors' sign.

Sophie Lavaud, left.

On their second rotation earlier this week, Lavaud noticed that Ang Kami and Dawa Sangay, with whom she shared a tent, had this “funny cough”. Upon returning to Base Camp, they were told of the outbreak and took a quick test from an expedition doctor. All three tested positive.

Lavaud said that the the illness has thwarted her entire Women Who Dare project, so more unannounced team members are likely ill. Sick climbers had hoped to be evacuated to Kathmandu yesterday, but bad weather engulfed Base Camp and delayed their flight.

News of Carla Perez and Topo Mena is also expected soon. Perez and Mena were climbing ahead of the pack on the normal route. The Slovak-Romanian team of Peter Hamor, Horia Colibasanu, and Marius Gane expected to reach Camp 2 on the unclimbed Northwest Ridge today.

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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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F v
F v
1 month ago

I am afraid this will also happen to the climbers who attempting everest, and now left BC to lower altitude to take some rest.

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Paul
Paul
1 month ago

on 21st April Department of Tourism in Nepal introduced the new rule that everyone have to make Covid-19 test before moving between expeditions, why it didn’t apply to all this climbers and Sherpas from Annapurna? Because they left the Annapurna BC few days earlier?

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John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Regardless of any rules, given the situation in the world, it would’ve been basic common sense to do a test before moving between. Totally retarded, they deserve zero sympathy..

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MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

The Nepal requirement for testing between expeditions is pure window-dressing. It’s not frequent enough, or effective at detecting virus soon enough to actually stop the spread. It is only effective at limiting the spread IF all those exposed are strictly isolated and retested several times. Testing needs to be at least 2-3x/week, even in the absence of symptoms, and it must be accompanied by continued distancing/ masking/ no congregating protocols between tests as well as very strict quarantine for both positive cases and everyone exposed to positive cases. That would probably be the whole expedition! Occasional testing is dangerous when… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago

They should require vaccines, as well as tests. I got my first vaccine shot a week ago, it really cheered me up that the end of the pandemic may be in sight. I get my second shot in three more weeks, then two weeks later, I will be fully vaccinated. Then I plan a trip to a third world country. I definitely wouldn’t go to India or Nepal now.

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Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Yay! I got both of mine already. The first time I hugged someone (also vaxxed), I almost cried. I hadn’t realized how much the isolation was affecting me.

I figure we’re going to need a booster in a while, after everyone who is willing gets their first. But I already feel so much freer. Enjoy!

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