Marek Holecek: “I am Used to Being Trapped in Bad Weather”

Holecek and Groh’s line has been the highlight of this Himalayan season. But what exactly did they climb?

Marek Holecek doesn’t seek awards, although it isn’t unlikely that he will end up with a third Piolet d’Or in three years to hang on his wall. He has no complaints about the four days trapped at 7,000m in a blizzard.

“We are used to it, you have to learn to accept such events,” he told “Of course, we were not happy to be stuck up there in bad weather in a 2×1.2m tent covered in snow, but we knew that we couldn’t take a step to the left or to the right, because then we would fall two kilometres down.”

“At moments like these,” he added, “you just want to save energy. Don’t get mentally trampled and wait…stick to your goal, or adjust it…[being good at] the physical side is expected of you. If you don’t come ready, that’s too bad.

Holecek lost 10kg in 10 days on Baruntse

“I lost over 10 kilograms in 10 days, we have some minor frostbite, but otherwise there’s nothing wrong with us,” Holecek said.

Yet the Baruntse adventure has cost him his plans for Masherbrum this summer. Even he admits that he won’t have enough time to recover.

What Holecek really wants now is a beer. A good Czech Pilsen, “not the ones they sell here”. Then he’d like to get home as soon as possible.

The first problem he solved yesterday, when lo and behold, he discovered a Czech pub. Kathmandu is locked down and will remain so at least until June 12, but he can buy beer there.

As for leaving Nepal, he will have to use more of the patience that came so in handy on Baruntse. “We have to buy new tickets, but we still hope to fly on June 5,” he said. “It’s boring here.”

However, tickets are neither easy to find nor cheap to purchase. (Watch for an upcoming story on this.) Also, although the photo above suggests that he might not be too concerned about COVID, he will have to provide a fresh negative PCR test to board any plane.

Meanwhile, we are waiting for details about the climbers’ new route, which they called Heavenly Trap.

What did they climb?

Mountaineering and polar historian Damien Gildea wonders, as did Richard Salisbury of the Himalayan Database, exactly what the daring Czech pair climbed.
“The photos being circulated [show] the west (or WSW) face of Baruntse,” Gildea told ExplorersWeb and others. “There is not really any NW face — but there is a NW face of Baruntse North (aka Khali Himal). Khali is the face that Moro and Urubko climbed in 2004, and I think there was already a Czech route on this face. But I don’t think this Northwest Face is where Holecek and Groh were.”

Photo: Google Earth. Labels: Damien Gildea


Gildea went on: “The west (WSW) face of Baruntse was climbed in 1995 by the Russians. And on the NW face [is] the Czech route,” Line B in the archival photo below.
The photo above, he says, has been called “Baruntse West Face, but it is really the Northwest Face, or more accurately, the Northwest Face of Baruntse North.”
Regardless of what they did, Holecek and Groh’s line has been the climb of this Himalayan season.