Updated: Another COVID Case at Everest Base Camp

Teams seem to ignore the threat, but individual climbers are sharing the turn of events at Everest Base Camp. Last one to confirm was Steve Davis, a client in Nirmal Purja’s Elite Himalayan team.

Steve Davis was initially diagnosed with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and airlifted down the mountain to recover. “I’m doing fine other than feeling like I’ve been run over by a yak,” he said back then, still hoping he would recover in four to five days.
However, today he shared the following message:

Davis had just participated in the puja ceremony when he felt sick. Meanwhile, the Elite team, like everyone else in the mountain, is not commenting. On the contrary, they take pains only to report great weather, exciting trips up the Khumbu Icefall, and the first rotation to Camp 2.

This marks the fourth confirmed case of COVID-19 at Everest Base Camp — Davis, Erlend Ness, and an unidentified Sherpa and Indian woman.


Rumors, however, speak of several more. Everest ER, the organization of volunteer doctors at Everest Base Camp, said today: “Some close contacts are isolating in their tents, as we’ve had a few confirmed cases of COVID, with evacuation from Everest Base Camp.”

The medical team listed the measures that outfitters are taking to avoid this becoming a super-spreader event, which would surely end the Everest season prematurely:
– Puja ceremonies — usually a festive gathering where different teams mix — is now a private event. So are mealtimes.
– Some groups have forbidden visits between camps.
– Everyone wears masks when moving through another camp. Remember that breathing at 5,350m is a chore even without a mask!
– Ropes separate camps to discourage visiting.
Everest Base Camp sign about masks
Otherwise, the climbing continues: The rope fixers should be at Camp 4 now and climbers are currently on their first rotation to Camp 2.
Meanwhile, among those in Base Camp, neither climbers nor outfitters have mentioned COVID on their social media. Some have noted the sixth anniversary of the deadly earthquake that hit Base Camp and the entire country, but they seem to be ignoring the viral quake that might be about to hit.
Climbers smiling in the Khumbu Icefall, Mount Everest

All smiles in the Khumbu Icefall. Photo: Marie-Pier Desharnais