Everest Summits, Dhaulagiri Evacuations, and More

The first wave of Everest summits occurred today without crowds or reported incidents. And if something did happen, we might not know, thanks to the secrecy wrapping the mountain this season.

According to official sources, this is surely the healthiest Everest season ever, with no evacuations, no pain, no doubts…and colorful unicorns flying over the Western Cwm. Actually, instead of unicorns, rumors have flown. And the backlash against the government of Nepal and the Everest community has begun.

Several articles in European media report that climbers and outfitters currently in Base Camp risk losing their next year’s permits if they speak up. The same articles note that evacuations from both Base Camp and Camp 2 continue almost daily.

Some climbers, including Alex Txikon, have left Everest Base Camp in exasperation with the COVID situation. Others are in quarantine or isolation. We don’t know if anyone is in the hospital back in Kathmandu.

Document from Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority cancelling all international flights into and out of Nepal until June.


No international flights

Most of those who decided to stay have started their final pushes. The first teams reached the top today. But when they return to Base Camp, they’ll hear some unpleasant news: First, the audiences are not particularly enthusiastic about their accomplishment. Their single-mindedness, with COVID raging throughout Nepal and in Base Camp, has not been an asset for once.

Second, Nepal has extended the ban on international flights until the end of May, The Kathmandu Post reports. So those who planned to helicopter back to Kathmandu and promptly fly home will be disappointed. Stranded trekkers currently in Kathmandu describe a grim situation, isolated in hotel rooms, with the city closed.

The Nepal Mountaineering Association has asked climbers to retrieve and repatriate their empty O2 canisters back to the cities. There is a shortage not only of oxygen but of oxygen canisters, and theirs may help keep people alive in hospitals.

More summits

Elia Saikaly and his four partners (Scott Simper, Hélène Drouin, Frank Løke, and Javier Remón) with the Ascent Himalayas group also summited today. Eleven Sherpa guides accompanied them: Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, Tsering Pemba Sherpa, Pasang Kaji Sherpa, Dawa Gyaljen Sherpa, Tsering Dawa Sherpa, Danurbu Sherpa (A), Danurbu Sherpa( B), Pasang Yella Sherpa, Kalsang Dorji Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa, and Mingmar Sherpa. Everyone has safely returned to Camp 4 for the night.

There is no news about summits from Tibet or the already infamous “line of separation” that Chinese guides allegedly set up on top. China’s Xinhua News, however, reports that nearly 50 climbers summited today from the Nepal side, including 12 Bahrainis.

Xinhua quoted Seven Summit Treks’ Mingma Sherpa that another four in the Bahraini team could not climb because of illness. Mingma Sherpa denied that any of those four had COVID. Seven Summit Treks has not yet released the list of summiters.

More climbers should summit tomorrow. Among them, Mingma G could become the first no-O2 summiter this season. He planned to join his Imagine Nepal team. Arjun Vajpai of India was evacuated from Camp 2 with excruciating back pain. “It was almost impossible to move,” he wrote.

David Goettler and Kilian Jornet have made a second partial rotation up the normal route. They set off from Camp 2, reached 7,900m, and returned to BC for dinner, Goettler reported. Jornet says that he considers their acclimatization done.

David Goettler and Kilian Jornet on the Lhotse Wall yesterday. Photo: David Goettler

COVID empties Dhaulagiri

Meanwhile, 26 more people have been evacuated from Dhaulagiri, says Carlos Soria. Given the spread in recent days, it would be interesting to know how many remain healthy up there. Everyone has returned to Base Camp, for now, frustrated by the tough conditions above Camp 3 and by the increasing number of COVID cases. Some experienced the onset when they were already up high. Others, such as Stefi Troguet, only found out when tested back in Base Camp.

Carlos Soria is among the few healthy souls that we know about in Base Camp. He has not said whether he will still attempt the mountain or leave it for the 12th time. His team’s six Sherpas are down to three, and there are no fixed ropes beyond Camp 3.

Only Peter Hamor, Horia Colibasanu, and Marius Gane — the three isolated climbers attempting the Northwest Ridge — have evaded the pandemic. Their problem remains the climb itself. It isn’t just the steep, unknown terrain but the avalanche that buried them while they slept in Camp 3. Presumably, this danger persists. Luckily, they managed to return unharmed to Base Camp. “Now, they will rest,” Horia Colibasanu’s team reported. “Afterward, they will decide what to do next.”