Everest: Andrzej Bargiel Courts Trouble, Unfurls Ukrainian Flag in Base Camp

The Ukrainian flag has become a source of trouble for those displaying it in the mountains of Nepal. And yet some climbers are willing to take the risk to show that they support the troubled country.

Andrzej Bargiel and his team made it to Camp 1 on Everest on Friday, but not for long. Bad weather was forecast, and as it arrived, they retreated back to Base Camp. “Conditions in the Icefall are difficult,” said Bargiel. “Going through it consumes a huge amount of time.”

Back in Base Camp, the team has spent time filming the surroundings. Andrzej Bargiel also posed with a flagpole holding both the Polish and Ukrainian flags. Like most climbers from Poland, a country that has welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Bargiel has made it clear where he stands.

He then posted the photo on social media with the caption, ‘Slava Ukrajini!’ Meaning “Glory to Ukraine”, it is the motto of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Bargiel rappels down a serac in the Khumbu icefall, among a maze of ice and fresh snow, with skis strapped to his backpack.

With only one team on Everest, the Khumbu Icefall is not as well-equipped as it is in spring, so crossing it is slow and difficult. Photo: Janusz Golab

Free speech vs regulations

The gesture comes just days after Nepal’s Department of Tourism refused a summit certificate to Katya Lipka, a Russian climber who displayed a Ukrainian flag on the summit of Everest to protest the war. Nepal also banned Lipka from the country for three years. The alleged reason is that Nepal does not permit any display reflecting a political stance. It is yet to be seen whether Nepal’s authorities apply the same criteria to Bargiel, one of the world’s best-known high-altitude skiers.

Typically, the liaison officer and outfitters issue the summit certificate without a great deal of scrutiny. As such, it has never been the most reliable proof of a successful climb. Bargiel travels with a cameraman, a photographer, and a drone operator, so his climb will be extremely well-documented.

Aerial shot of tiny yellow tents on the huge Khumbu glacier, half of it partially rocky and half covered in ice and snow

The Polish Base Camp at the foot of Everest. Photo: Bartek Bargiel

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.