Climbers Stranded in Kathmandu, Chinese Approach Everest North Side

Long ago, it seems, but really only about a month, Horia Colibasanu of Romania and Peter Hamor and Michal Sabovčík of Slovakia traveled to Nepal to open a new route on Dhaulagiri. The COVID-19 lockdown has plunged the trio into a different kind of adventure, in which the goal is not to reach a summit, but to get home.

According to the latest update by Colibasanu, the story is far from approaching its end.

Last week, they were in Namche Bazaar, when the army blocked the paths up the Khumbu Valley. They had no wish either to move to Lukla — by then, crowded with 200 other stranded tourists. Since trekkers rarely overnight in Lukla, unless their flights to KTM are cancelled, the town has few accommodations compared to Phakding and Namche Bazaar.

The climbers were happy to have a small crag at hand and a good 300 vertical meters to train on without leaving the place. While locals downtown were nice as ever, they noticed some funny stares from some villagers on the outskirts of town. “No wonder,” Colibasanu said. “Even if the coronavirus has barely struck Nepal yet, the disease would be disastrous in a country with a barely existent health system.”

Notice for foreigners stranded in Nepal, issued by Nepal Tourism Board


EU countries were trying to coordinate the repatriation of their nationals, and the trio finally moved down to Lukla and managed to get a plane to a locked-down Kathmandu yesterday. They are currently at a hotel but they hope to rent an apartment if they remain stranded long-term. They are spending their quarantined time training with squats and crunches in the hotel’s lobby and climbing up and down the stairs.

Meanwhile, their coveted goal, Dhaulagiri, waits deserted, while spring Rododendrons are in full blossom at nearby Gorepani.

Dhaulagiri and rhododendrons, from a previous spring. Photo: Gorakh Bista


Meanwhile, in Tibet, the Chinese team outfitted by Yarla Shampo Trek might reach Advanced Base Camp today, according to Stefan Nester’s Mountain Adventure blog. The 26 climbers, including six women, will then start up the mountain, which features more snow than in previous seasons. The Chinese will be the only ones on Everest this spring, after Nepal’s government ignored Kami Rita Sherpa’s request to organize a clean-up expedition on the South Col route. This would have improved the state of the mountain and provided jobs for Sherpa climbers and BC staff.

All other would-be Himalayan climbers from around the world continue to endure self-isolation, to slow down the pandemic. While social media and WhatsApp groups fill up with videos of terminally bored climbers clambering on kitchen furniture and mounting stairs with laundry baskets in full high-altitude gear, some are going further and changing hobbies. Yesterday, Kilian Jornet posted a video on his sponsor’s site stating that he was quitting trail running and devoting himself instead to family and…”Salomon fishing”. Not a bad April Fool’s gag.