Holecek and Groh: “Kathmandu is Worse than Baruntse”

Two super-skinny climbers show their bones and muscles
Marek Holecek and Radoslav Groh show the results of their patented Baruntse Diet. Photo: Marek Holecek

Marek Holecek and Radoslav Groh have reappeared in Kathmandu, which they describe as “much worse than Baruntse”. After nine days on the wall, three of them trapped at 7,000m in a major storm and four days without food, they have lost a third of their body weight. But not their sense of humor.

“The whole climb was nothing compared to returning to Kathmandu,” said Holecek.

After assuring that he is perfectly fine, he jokes that surviving Kathmandu is more of a lottery than their recent precarious bivouac. First, he had to pay a compulsory visit to the city’s international hospital. “It is a procedural matter from which it is impossible to escape.”

Holecek, about to start trouble at the hospital by refusing to take “1,000 pills”. Photo: Marek Holecek

“They took my blood three times, so they bled me regularly,” he went on. “Then they X-rayed me and then concluded that I needed oxygen urgently. In the end I got about 1,000 different pills. I could have become a drug dealer right then.

“When I refused to eat the pills…they came to the conclusion that I was not normal and that I would surely die. I took the risk anyway, and an ambulance took me through the deserted city back to my hotel.”

No wonder the Czech climber’s state and attitude shocked the doctors at the CIWEK hospital (servicing foreigners in Nepal). After attending to hundreds of Everest climbers with COVID, AMS, and further ailments, they surely didn’t expect a man who had survived such an ordeal to refuse treatment.

But then, Holecek and Groh are made of sterner stuff. They never asked for rescue during the days they spent in the blizzard at 7,000m. They just waited patiently and hungrily in their soaking sleeping bags and tiny bivouac tent until Cyclone Yaas passed by.

Back in civilization, their climb’s worldwide impact has surprised them. They have not yet shared details or a route map, but they did reveal the name of their new line: Heavenly Trap.

“The only thing that bothers us is that no planes are flying home yet,” Holecek said. “We’ll probably have to walk.”

He might be joking — or not.

More clowning around, perhaps giddy with relief at being alive. Photo: Marek Holecek

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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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Maysnow
Maysnow
4 months ago

incredible,czech mounteneers! This is something about mental strong mental resicience!

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Benny Smith
Benny Smith
4 months ago
Reply to  Maysnow

Thanks a lot for the link to the interview. Even though I had to read it via Google translate, you can get an idea of Marek’s unique sense of humour. What a legend! Modest but edgy and original, an extraordinary athlete!

+2
Martin Točík
Martin Točík
4 months ago
Reply to  Benny Smith

There is an interview in printed Czech media, should not be so difficult to have a reasonable English translation. He is quoted as saying: “As long as your chest still lifts and draws breath, there is always a reason for fighting…” I am glad that they made it down, but he appears to downplay it saying it was not such a big drama… 🙂 https://www.lidovky.cz/sport/ostatni-sporty/pohubly-ale-usmevavy-holecek-musite-setrit-energii-a-cekat-rika-o-vystupu-na.A210601_171755_ln-sport-ostatni_lihem?

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Sid
Sid
4 months ago

Hoping for a photo of their ascent line at some point.

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Mike
Mike
4 months ago

Same thing happened to me when I got a minor head wound while trekking and they were determined to have me airlifted out. I ended up at the same international hospital where they demanded I stay a week, get tons of x-rays and take lots of pills. I made a scene and they let me go, with the helicopter rep running after me with his bill.

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Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Welcome to the subcontinental bureaucracy!

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Climber
Climber
4 months ago
Reply to  Bureaucrat

“professional treatment” xD

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Twinkletoes
Twinkletoes
4 months ago

“They never asked for rescue” sounds so badass, except for the fact that no rescue attempt was even possible, which they were quite aware of. Thats just sloppy writing, especially with this fact having been pointed out in a previous EW post… They definitely are a hard-boiled pair of eggs though, that is fact.

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Rabin shrestha
Rabin shrestha
4 months ago
Reply to  Twinkletoes

If u want adventure u have to take risk be prepared for anything upcoming rather than sympathy … thanks for your review 😉

+3
Bruce
Bruce
4 months ago

Amazing stuff. Tagging on the last quote – “The only thing that bothers us is that no planes are flying home yet.” HUGELY FRUSTRATING for all climbers stuck in Nepal now and having to pay up to $2000 for a “charter flight” out. The government taking advantage of foreign climbers they know are desperate to get home. Leaves you with such a bad taste in your mouth ….

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Marie
Marie
4 months ago
Reply to  Bruce

Speaking of desperation… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVLFDUB_aXc

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Stteve
Stteve
4 months ago
Reply to  Bruce

Yeah. Right. It’s all about those poor foreign climber tourists…not quarantining plague rat alpinists during a huge pandemic that’s killing thousands.

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Don Paul
Don Paul
4 months ago

I’m glad they made it back. I don’t have a clear idea of what the route is, would like to see it mapped out with any pictures they have.

While India may have turned the corner on the pandemic, the same can’t be said for Nepal. Here’s a Deutche Welle news segment comparing this with the Mount Everest scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVLFDUB_aXc

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