Himalaya Spring 2022: How the Ukraine Invasion Is Affecting Everest

As Nepal’s spring climbing season approaches, the war in Ukraine has hit the local tourism industry, already struggling after two years of COVID.

Expedition outfitters in Kathmandu, including the biggest, Seven Summit Treks (7ST), have seen many cancelations for the months ahead.

“We’ve had a significant number of Ukrainian clients who, for sad, obvious reasons, will not come,” 7ST general manager Thaneswar Guragai told ExplorersWeb. “And neither are the Russians coming. Even if they find a way to fly to Nepal despite sanctions, they may have difficulties with payment, and the ruble has completely sunk.”

Other climbers worry that the war might expand soon. “We have had cancelations of Polish climbers. Some think they may be the next [under attack],” Guragai said. “We have had cancelations from Germany as well.”

Other agencies share this pessimistic assessment.

A client practices rappelling on Everest. Photo: Seven Summit Treks

 

“Our Makalu team has been reduced to a minimum, and many of our clients are canceling because of the war,” Pioneer Adventure‘s Ngaa Tenji told ExplorersWeb.

Lakpa Sherpa of 8K Expeditions confirms that his Ukrainian clients have all, unsurprisingly, postponed their spring trips. “A total of nine members have canceled,” he told ExplorersWeb.

Nepal’s tourism industry had hoped to revive in 2022 after two years of the pandemic. But the dark geopolitical situation has lessened expectations. The spiking cost of oil has also impacted airfare and changed the holiday plans of many trekkers and climbers.

“So far, we still hope there will be enough work for all the Sherpas,” said Lakpa Sherpa.  “At least, we still have teams on all Nepal’s 8,000’ers.”

Shared rope fixing

As usual, the Nepal-based agencies share the responsibility of fixing the ropes up the normal routes on all commercial peaks. The Expedition Operators Association of Nepal assigns the rope fixing on Everest-Lhotse, Manaslu, and Ama Dablam. Usually, one team leads, while the other agencies help with manpower.

Once again, Seven Summit Treks is doing all the fixing on Everest and Lhotse. They will also lead on Annapurna and also Makalu, under local climbing star Sanu Sherpa. Lakpa Sherpa of 8K Expeditions will also work on Annapurna I, beginning in early April.

Mingma G of Imagine Nepal will lead the fixing on Dhaulagiri, and Pioneer has the job on possibly the most crowded peak (except for Everest) this spring: Kangchenjunga.

Everest without crowds

As for Everest, 7ST estimates slightly over 250 permits overall this spring for foreign climbers.

“In the best possible scenario, the final number of Everest permits might reach 300,” Guragai noted. “On a positive note, after the ugly, COVID-stricken 2021 season, those coming may enjoy a pleasant experience on a not-so-crowded mountain.”

Last year, despite soaring COVID cases in Nepal, Everest saw a record of 408 permits issued. While a number of teams succeeded, others had to abort when some of their members caught the coronavirus.

Oxygen supplies at Pioneer Expedition’s headquarters. Photo: Pioneer Adventure

 

Guragai also said that besides the extraordinary events of the last two years, they have noticed a slight decrease of interest in some of their biggest markets, including India, because of bad press from the crowds on Everest.

“Our plan is to speed up the rope fixing as much as possible, and hopefully have the mountain ready by mid-April,” said Guragai.

This will allow different expeditions to summit across various summit windows. Crowds are worst when everyone queues in the lone two-day window available.

“It will also provide a very good chance for those eyeing no-O2 ascents,” Guragai pointed out.”They will a good shot at the summit…without the dangerous jams and lines on the upper sections.”

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides 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 national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Average Joe
Average Joe
3 months ago

Great summary as always Angela