Everest: The Haste to Escape Base Camp

Some climbers accelerate their progress up Everest to avoid the COVID-19 outbreak in Base Camp. Meanwhile, other large teams keep arriving.

Squeezing the good weather for all it’s worth, climbers are rotating to Camps 1 and 2 for acclimatization. Meanwhile, Sherpa route-fixers reached Camp 4 at the South Col yesterday. If the weather holds, the first summits of the season — by the Sherpas — should come soon.

Speed is of the essence because of the COVID situation in Everest Base Camp. The faster a team removes itself from the risk of contagion, the better its chances of summiting.

Garret Madison, for instance, reports that his team is now in Camp 2 at the Western Cwm after two nights in Camp 1. They plan to spend another two nights at C2. This is a long rotation, but if everyone feels well, they will improve their acclimatization a great deal. They can also enjoy a relatively comfortable and beautiful camp on the lap of Everest and Lhotse.

Camp 2 on Everest in the shade

A dry Camp 2 on Everest. Photo: Garrett Madison

COVID increasing in Base Camp

They can also avoid a Base Camp where COVID cases are apparently increasing. The expedition technology company WICIs-Sports quotes sources in Kathmandu stating that helicopter pilots are evacuating about eight persons a day with COVID symptoms. Meanwhile, teams keep arriving in Base Camp. The large Indian CAFP expedition to Everest and Lhotse, outfitted by Seven Summit Treks, held their puja ceremony yesterday, below.

A crowd at Everest Base Camp

Social un-distancing: India’s team, aiming for Everest and Lhotse, in Base Camp yesterday. Photo: Seven Summit Treks


Given the pandemic perils of a long stay in Base Camp, it is not unlikely that teams will speed up their summit bids. Ideally, most climbers need at least one more acclimatization trip up the mountain, with a night at Camp 3. However, with the route fixed and plenty of oxygen, some leaders might opt for an “express” climb.

Meanwhile, no-O2 climber Kilian Jornet is in Kathmandu and shared a moment today with Seven Summit Treks’ CEO Chhang Dawa Sherpa. David Goettler, Jornet’s companion up Everest’s West Ridge, is currently training in the Khumbu Icefall.

A portrait of Kilian Jornet and Dawa Sherpa in Kathmandu

Kilian Jornet and Chhang Dawa Sherpa, today in Kathmandu. Photo: Chhang Dawa Sherpa


Former French speed climber Marc Batard has announced that he will do an exploratory trip to Everest this fall. Pasang Nuru and Sajid Ali Sadpara (the late Muhammad Ali Sadpara’s son) will join him. Batard intends to check out an alternative route from Base Camp to Camp 2 that avoids the Khumbu Icefall.

Batard will then return in spring 2022 for a no-O2 ascent to celebrate his 70th birthday. According to RussianClimb, the new route could be Denis Urubko and Alexey Bolotov’s proposed line up the flank of Nuptse.

Csaba Varga, also climbing without bottled gas, is back in EBC after three nights in Camp 2, during which he reached 7,000m. He needs just one more rotation before a summit bid.