Embassies Summon Their Climbers Home

Carlos Soria’s hopes for a Dhaulagiri summit are over, but not from bad weather. The Spanish embassy in New Delhi (the nearest embassy to Nepal) is hurrying all its nationals out of the country on charter flights. Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has arranged an Iberia Airlines plane to fly to Nepal with aid materials. On its flight home, it will take as many Spaniards (and European citizens, if there is space) as possible.

This past weekend, Soria and his team confirmed that everyone remaining in Base Camp had tested negative for COVID: Soria himself and his two climbing partners, five Sherpas, six kitchen staff, and Vibeke Andrea Sefland of Norway. She is the only remaining member of the Women who Dare team, also decimated by COVID.

Soria adds that according to his embassy, the situation is Nepal remains serious and will likely not improve soon. It’s unlikely that flights will resume at the end of May. Here is Soria’s report (in Spanish) from Base Camp today.


What of Kilian Jornet?

The measure also affects Kilian Jornet, currently at a lodge in Pheriche with David Goettler and a film crew. Although currently based in Norway, Jornet is a Spanish citizen. Goettler, a German, lives in northern Spain for part of the year. They have not moved from Pheriche in the last seven days.

A relieved Stefi Troguet of Andorra has confirmed that she has tested negative on two consecutive PCRs so she is able to fly home with the Spaniards.

Jonatan Garcia also tested clean both in Dhaulagiri Base Camp and Kathmandu. He says that the plane from Spain may reach Nepal on Wednesday and leave on Thursday. Alex Txikon and his team will join them, assuming that they test negative. For Juanito Oiarzabal, also in Nepal, the risk of contracting COVID is low since he wrestled with the disease earlier this year.

Ecuadorians Carla Perez and Topo Mena landed in Kathmandu today, after reluctantly ending their attempt on Dhaulagiri. An unconfirmed report suggests that they will try to fly to Madrid with the Spaniards on Thursday.

Other embassies may be sending similar messages to their citizens. Today, planes are due to leave with mainly U.S. nationals, and an Aeroflot plane will take Russians home. This is crucial news for all climbers currently attempting Everest and Lhotse.

Many hikers and climbers have returned to Kathmandu from the mountains. Those who test positive for COVID won’t be able to leave immediately. Antonios Sykaris of Greece and his partner are improving after days of fever and fatigue, but they are still awaiting a negative test.

Other climbers who recently arrived in Kathmandu from Everest and Dhaulagiri may be also infected, according to sources. It is also likely that some who left a base camp with a negative test may develop symptoms in a few days.

Despite the risk, several climbers from Dhaulagiri, mostly Nepalis, have transferred to Everest Base Camp and joined in the parties there.