Trekking Etiquette, a Virus Victim and Chinese on Everest

While much of the world is in lockdown, Peter Hamor and  Michal Sabovčík — who entered Nepal when it was still open — are currently trekking up the Khumbu Valley. On their way to Dingboche, they posted some dreamy pictures today and reported no problem. Meanwhile, their Romanian teammate, Horia Colibasanu, reached Namche Bazaar earlier today, with his wife and a friend.

Peter Hamor and Michal Sabovčík in a deserted Khumbu. Photo: P. Hamor’s Facebook

Since all climbing permits have been cancelled, the trio will only be able to climb trekking peaks: Kala Pattar and Chukhung Ri (5,555m). “I could go home directly to the quarantine or climb what I can and I am allowed,” Colibasanu said.  But while the small group will enjoy some trekking, comments on Colibasanu’s social media have criticized him for leaving Europe during the coronavirus outbreak. Debate is open: Should one make the best of the situation or just return home? As of yesterday, Romania reported just 219 cases of the virus.

Trekking in a deserted Khumbu Valley, near Namche Bazaar. Photo: Horia Colibasanu


Most have had no such chance to get away, and at least one has experienced more than house confinement: High-altitude skier Cala Cimenti was diagnosed with Covid-19 yesterday and is developing pneumonia. “It’s funny how priorities change in a second,” he said, just days after cancelling this spring’s Makalu Trilogy expedition. After the news, he received messages of support from all over the world.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Cala Cimenti, left, currently battling Covid-19. Photo: Cala Cimenti


In China, people are starting to reemerge, as the number of cases finally decrease.  Today, there is news that a Chinese team of at least 26 climbers, including six women, is poised to attempt Everest in May. If it comes off, they will experience the mountain as the pioneers of the 1950s and 1960s found it: empty and wild.

With India, Nepal and Tibet closed to foreigners, all hopes lie with Pakistan and the Karakorum, assuming that the crisis comes under control by late spring. The first teams, which usually head for Nanga Parbat, will land in Pakistan at the beginning of June. Nowadays, most operators also offer K2 expeditions, and permits could easily multiply and make another Everest out of the world’s second-highest mountain.

Meanwhile, let’s note that five days remain in the (calendar) winter. While 8,000m peaks were unattainable this season, scattered teams remained on Pakistan’s 6,000’ers until recently. A small Polish team’s attempt to climb 6,010m Mitre Peak almost ended in tragedy, when Jacek Czech and Dominik Malirz fell more than 100m, the Jerzy Kukuczka Foundation reported. Miraculously, soft snow padded their fall — even skydivers have sometimes survived falls into deep, soft snow — and a nearby cargo helicopter saw the accident and rescued them. Czech is currently recovering from some bruises in hospital, while an unharmed Malirz waits for him. The pair are due home in a week.