Nepal: Climbers Reposition for Winter, and a Quarantine Again for Newcomers

Tomorrow, December 21, winter expeditions can officially begin their cold-season assaults on their chosen peaks.

Jost Kobusch is currently in Lobuche preparing for a solo Everest ascent. Meanwhile, Alex Txikon’s team, along with Oswald Rodrigo Pereira, flew to Samagaon last weekend. They’re just a few hours by foot from Manaslu and should arrive in time to set up Base Camp and maybe Camp 1 by Christmas Eve.

Oswald R. Pereira today at 4,200m during an acclimatization trip near Samagaon. Photo: Oswald R. Pereira


Pereira took advantage of the good weather to make a 4,200m acclimatization climb above town today. Last year on K2, Pereira learned the dangers and difficulties of climbing an 8,000’er in winter, and to place safety first. “I’m ready to work hard but the summit is not my primary goal,” he told ExplorersWeb. The Polish climber carries a tracking device, so you can check his ongoing progress in real time.

Manaslu from Samagaon village. Photo: Alex Txikon

Quarantine again

The rest of the Manaslu team, which is expected to arrive in early January, may run into resurgent COVID-related delays. The Omicron variant’s spread has forced Nepal to restore its mandatory quarantine for all arriving foreigners. This will further delay the already late arrival of Belgium’s Sofie Lenaerts and Stef Maginelle. However, Lenaerts has confirmed to ExplorersWeb that the two will go anyway.

Notice by Nepal’s authorities reestablishing a mandatory quarantine for foreigners.


Simone Moro and Pasang Rinzee are also aiming for winter Manaslu, but have not yet arrived. Instead, they summited Ama Dablam today, “on the last day of autumn,” Moro pointed out from the summit. “Some hours more, and ours would have been a winter ascent, although that’s not how we do winter climbs.” The pair, alone on the mountain, reached the top after a fast push from Base Camp that began yesterday.

Simone Moro on the summit of Ama Dablam earlier today. Photo: Simone Moro


Uncertainty about Gelje Sherpa’s Cho Oyu

Meanwhile, Gelje Sherpa counts the dollars and the days, hoping that his winter Cho Oyu expedition will come off. Five members, including Lakpa Dendi Sherpa, are confirmed, according to an interview with local media. But Gelje wants a larger team of 10, the same number of Nepalese climbers as summited K2 last winter.

Gelje also mentioned that he is investing his own money and even asking for a bank loan to fund the expedition. This is extremely unusual among local climbers, most of whom work for expedition agencies. Even his own wife is shocked at the prospect, Gelje admits. “She doesn’t understand, but mountaineering to me is more than just a job,” he told Online Khabar. “It’s become an obsession. I’ve set myself a goal and want to fulfill it.”

Gelje Sherpa. Photo: Gelje Sherpa/Instagram


Gelje Sherpa’s plan to open a commercial route on Cho Oyu’s highly difficult South Face — and to bring himself within one peak of becoming the youngest to complete the 14×8,000’ers — is a personal venture. It is not supported by the Nepal government, although authorities did previously announce a $200,000 grant to any team that opened and fixed such a route.

This would allow climbers to approach Cho Oyu from Nepal instead of Tibet. Permits for the Chinese side have become harder and harder to obtain in recent years, and impossible since COVID began.

As Gelje himself pointed out, Cho Oyu has become “seemingly more difficult to get a permit for than to climb.”