Marek Holecek: “I am Used to Being Trapped in Bad Weather”

Alpine style Himalaya
Two men in front of a Czech pub in Kathmandu
Holecek's favorite spot in Kathmandu. Photo: Marek Holecek

Holecek and Groh’s line has been the highlight of this Himalayan season. But what exactly did they climb?

Marek Holecek doesn’t seek awards, although it isn’t unlikely that he will end up with a third Piolet d’Or in three years to hang on his wall. He has no complaints about the four days trapped at 7,000m in a blizzard.

“We are used to it, you have to learn to accept such events,” he told Lidovky.cz. “Of course, we were not happy to be stuck up there in bad weather in a 2×1.2m tent covered in snow, but we knew that we couldn’t take a step to the left or to the right, because then we would fall two kilometres down.”

“At moments like these,” he added, “you just want to save energy. Don’t get mentally trampled and wait…stick to your goal, or adjust it…[being good at] the physical side is expected of you. If you don’t come ready, that’s too bad.

Holecek lost 10kg in 10 days on Baruntse

“I lost over 10 kilograms in 10 days, we have some minor frostbite, but otherwise there’s nothing wrong with us,” Holecek said.

Yet the Baruntse adventure has cost him his plans for Masherbrum this summer. Even he admits that he won’t have enough time to recover.

What Holecek really wants now is a beer. A good Czech Pilsen, “not the ones they sell here”. Then he’d like to get home as soon as possible.

The first problem he solved yesterday, when lo and behold, he discovered a Czech pub. Kathmandu is locked down and will remain so at least until June 12, but he can buy beer there.

As for leaving Nepal, he will have to use more of the patience that came so in handy on Baruntse. “We have to buy new tickets, but we still hope to fly on June 5,” he said. “It’s boring here.”

However, tickets are neither easy to find nor cheap to purchase. (Watch for an upcoming story on this.) Also, although the photo above suggests that he might not be too concerned about COVID, he will have to provide a fresh negative PCR test to board any plane.

Meanwhile, we are waiting for details about the climbers’ new route, which they called Heavenly Trap.

What did they climb?

Mountaineering and polar historian Damien Gildea wonders, as did Richard Salisbury of the Himalayan Database, exactly what the daring Czech pair climbed.
“The photos being circulated [show] the west (or WSW) face of Baruntse,” Gildea told ExplorersWeb and others. “There is not really any NW face — but there is a NW face of Baruntse North (aka Khali Himal). Khali is the face that Moro and Urubko climbed in 2004, and I think there was already a Czech route on this face. But I don’t think this Northwest Face is where Holecek and Groh were.”

Photo: Google Earth. Labels: Damien Gildea

Gildea went on: “The west (WSW) face of Baruntse was climbed in 1995 by the Russians. And on the NW face [is] the Czech route,” Line B in the archival photo below.
The photo above, he says, has been called “Baruntse West Face, but it is really the Northwest Face, or more accurately, the Northwest Face of Baruntse North.”
Regardless of what they did, Holecek and Groh’s line has been the climb of this Himalayan season.
+2

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!

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
luke
luke
10 days ago

Thx for an interesting article!

It´s almost certain they climbed the West Face, they wanted to complete simmilar route to the 2 Czech climbers (Machold, Vanek) who died during the attempt in 2013. The proposed route is more of a direct route, slightly to the left of the Russian expedition (links below)

Holecek + Groh proposed route (in one of the pictures):
https://www.horyinfo.cz/view.php?cisloclanku=2021050005&nazevclanku=mara-holecek-expedice-baruntse-ve-stene
Russian 1995 route: https://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_1997_files/AJ%201997%2093-98%20Efimov%20Baruntse.pdf

+1
Last edited 10 days ago by luke
damiengildea
Editor
10 days ago

Well Angela, those musings were nearly a week ago, and I think it’s clear now that they climbed the west face, or WSW face as some call it. A bit left ie. north, of the 1995 Russian line.

Many online photos of the face show it in snowed-up post-monsoon condition, as people trek north to cross the Amphu Lapcha, but in pre-monsoon conditions as now it is quite dry and relatively rocky, making it more difficult.

+1
Last edited 10 days ago by damiengildea
Brazilian Guy
Brazilian Guy
9 days ago

This Holecek guy is a very unpleasant person. He just climbed a mountain in another country, enjoying the nature of that nation and still the only thing he does is to complain about the place, the food, the drinks. Can’t he show some respect or some gratitude?

+1
mijares
jose mijares
9 days ago
Reply to  Brazilian Guy

You should fill out the “offended form” and send it to him, he will surely cry.

+1
Benny Smith
Benny Smith
9 days ago
Reply to  Brazilian Guy

Yeah that Holecek guy is even more annoying than that Brazilian guy…
Never heard about irony? Marek has a unique sense of humour, I am glad he offended you 🙂

0
Maysnow
Maysnow
9 days ago
Reply to  Brazilian Guy

Wenn Tschechen im Ausland nur tschechisches Bier trinken ist das eine Überlebensnotwendigkeit, kein Lebensmittelkonsum.

0
Maysnow
Maysnow
9 days ago
Reply to  Brazilian Guy

Ihr müsst mit euren Kommentaren auch ein bisschen nachsichtig mit dem Brazilianer und seinen verbalen und intellektuellen Leistungen sein, denn er trinkt ja kein tschechisches Bier….!

0
Frank
Frank
9 days ago

Hi Angela,

Thanks a lot for all the updates on this amazing feat of Holecek and Groh! Reading the short messages from Holecek and daydreaming about their ordeal was a mind boggling experience…

Reading this article made me interested in the story behind the other routes on both the W(SW) and NW faces. As a dutchman I’m especially interested in the so-called 1983 dutch route. I can’t find any info on a 1983 expedition to Baruntse anywhere.

Does somebody know where to find information on these other expeditions and routes.

Thanks!

0
×