Holecek and Groh: “Kathmandu is Worse than Baruntse”

Marek Holecek and Radoslav Groh have reappeared in Kathmandu, which they describe as “much worse than Baruntse”. After nine days on the wall, three of them trapped at 7,000m in a major storm and four days without food, they have lost a third of their body weight. But not their sense of humor.

“The whole climb was nothing compared to returning to Kathmandu,” said Holecek.

After assuring that he is perfectly fine, he jokes that surviving Kathmandu is more of a lottery than their recent precarious bivouac. First, he had to pay a compulsory visit to the city’s international hospital. “It is a procedural matter from which it is impossible to escape.”

Holecek, about to start trouble at the hospital by refusing to take “1,000 pills”. Photo: Marek Holecek


“They took my blood three times, so they bled me regularly,” he went on. “Then they X-rayed me and then concluded that I needed oxygen urgently. In the end I got about 1,000 different pills. I could have become a drug dealer right then.

“When I refused to eat the pills…they came to the conclusion that I was not normal and that I would surely die. I took the risk anyway, and an ambulance took me through the deserted city back to my hotel.”

No wonder the Czech climber’s state and attitude shocked the doctors at the CIWEK hospital (servicing foreigners in Nepal). After attending to hundreds of Everest climbers with COVID, AMS, and further ailments, they surely didn’t expect a man who had survived such an ordeal to refuse treatment.

But then, Holecek and Groh are made of sterner stuff. They never asked for rescue during the days they spent in the blizzard at 7,000m. They just waited patiently and hungrily in their soaking sleeping bags and tiny bivouac tent until Cyclone Yaas passed by.

Back in civilization, their climb’s worldwide impact has surprised them. They have not yet shared details or a route map, but they did reveal the name of their new line: Heavenly Trap.

“The only thing that bothers us is that no planes are flying home yet,” Holecek said. “We’ll probably have to walk.”

He might be joking — or not.

More clowning around, perhaps giddy with relief at being alive. Photo: Marek Holecek