All-Nepali K2 Expedition Arrives in Pakistan

Two weeks ago, Pakistan relaxed its ban against Nepali citizens amid concerns for COVID-19’s Delta strain. Considered “essential in mountaineering expeditions”, Nepalis are now allowed into Pakistan under strict measures: proof of complete vaccination, two PCRs, and 10 days quarantine.

The measure came too late for Nepal’s big outfitters, which had just canceled their Karakorum plans. But two teams reacted quickly enough and arranged their K2 expeditions within days: U.S.-based Madison Mountaineering, which will bring in 10 Sherpas, and Kathmandu-based Pioneer Adventure, led by Lakpa Sherpa and Mingma Dorchi Sherpa, has organized what appears to be an all-Nepali team.

All-Nepali team to K2

In addition to Lakpa Sherpa and Mingma Dorchi, Nepali team members include Sanu Sherpa, Pemba R. Sherpa, Chhiring N. Sherpa, Mingma D. Sherpa (Saila), Pemba D. Sherpa, Lakpa G. Sherpa, and Tashi Sherpa. All boarded a chartered plane from Kathmandu to Islamabad.

Mingma Dorchi has summited K2 twice and holds the speed record of six hours for linking the summits of Everest and Lhotse in 2019. Now he hopes to add one more success to a very good year when he has led teams up Annapurna and Everest.

“This year, it will be much more difficult because of less time available and other restrictions imposed by pandemic,” co-leader Lakpa Sherpa said earlier today.

Pioneer Adventure’s Sherpa team in Kathmandu yesterday. Photo: Pioneer Adventure


Meanwhile, Madison Mountaineering’s Nepali team will assist four international clients (1 from the U.S., 2 from the UK, and 1 Ukrainian).

“We only managed to bring 10 climbers from Nepal, compared to the 35 we had at Everest some months ago, but enough to keep the 1:1 ratio,” Garrett Madison told ExplorersWeb from Islamabad. “In addition, they are the best climbers among those we have worked with for years.” The highly supported team includes Garrett Madison himself and guides John Gupta, Conan Bliss, Rob Smith and Kenton Cool, plus 4 Paistani HAPs and BC staff.

Madison’s expeditions have continued despite the uncertainty of COVID. He guided the first foreign team to Nepal in fall 2020. He also told ExplorersWeb that he was lucky (and careful) enough to succeed on Everest and Lhotse this past spring with no COVID cases on his team.

“It was a difficult season,” Madison admits. “I think my previous experience in the Ama Dablam 2020 expedition helped keep the team safe in spring, at the cost of remaining completely asocial. “Also, we were lucky to have all our clients already vaccinated, although the Nepali staff were not that lucky because there were no vaccines available in Nepal.”

He is making sure that everyone continues to follow all precautions in Pakistan. “This time, everyone (clients, Nepali Sherpas, and Pakistani staff) have completed their vaccinations, so I am confident everything will be all right,” he says.

Garrett Madison and a client at the summit of Everest some weeks ago. Photo: Madison Mountaineering