No-Season Update: Cleaning Everest, Training Indoors

Nepal Mountaineering Association’s President Santa Bir Lama has urged the country’s government to turn the present crisis into an opportunity by using this spring to clean up Everest and solve the waste problem, according to Xinhua News. Lama noted that the action would provide work for many Nepalis, especially Sherpas, who have been left jobless after the country closed its borders to foreign climbers. Authorities have not yet agreed to the cleanup plan; on the contrary, Nepal has also opted for social distancing and close-down measures after a second COVID-19 fatality.

The only climbers in the Khumbu Valley, yesterday on Lobuche Peak. Photo: Michal Sabovčík

High in the Khumbu Valley, however, Peter Hamor and Michal Sabovčík are proceeding “as if the situation was normal” and just climbed Lobuche Peak. Horia Colibasanu had joined them at the Pyramid on March 19, after the women accompanying him (his wife and a friend) decided to return home.

It is unclear how long they will be able to continue their expedition, given the changing regulations in Nepal. Most of all, what would happen if the climbers have some health issue or accident? It is also unknown whether or how they will be able to return home.

For instance, the Polish climbers recently injured in a fall on Mitre Peak, Dominik Malirz and Jacek Paweł Czech, together with Jerzy Natkański, managed to enter Poland from Germany and went immediately to their homes, where they remain quarantined.  Meanwhile, the Pakistani pilots have shared a video of their rescue of Czech, who suffered a head injury in the fall.

Vague hopes remain that the pandemic will ease enough to allow summer climbing in the Karakorum, including Trango Tower, above. Photo: Alpine Adventure Guides Pakistan

Pakistan is also reinforcing emergency measures amid a soaring number of coronavirus cases. With six reported casualties and over 800 cases in one week, the country’s 200 million inhabitants fear a serious outbreak. Several regions, including the mountain area of Gilgit-Baltistan, have declared partial lockdowns, while transportation has stopped and businesses are closing in Islamabad. Calls persist for a total closure, while climbers with summer plans in the Karakorum wait and watch. Local operators, ever hopeful, keep their offers open.

Meanwhile, climbers around the world cope with varying degrees of restrictions. Denis Urubko is in his wife Maria Cardell’s hometown of Granada, where house isolation is mandatory and strictly enforced. Now focused on rock climbing, he is training as much as the couple’s small house permits.

In the U.S., Alex Honnold admits that he doesn’t really know what to post. “The best I can do is provide indoor training motivation,” through his new @Reelrock 14 series, he says.

Climbers who are not under total lockdown are being advised that they can contract the infection from rocks that others have touched, according to a story in Alpinist.