The Everest 2021 season is about to get started in earnest. Climber after climber and team after team are leaving home and in many cases, scores of Sherpas are on their way to Everest Base Camp to being the arduous process of establishing a home for over 700 people this spring season.
As I’ve noted, the vast majority of the climbing will be on the Nepal side as China has closed Tibet to all foreigners and only a couple of Chinese national teams are anticipated to climb from that side in 2021. We’ll see if they open up for autumn climbs.
Some of the teams
The US-based guides including Altitude Junkies, Alpine Ascents International (AAI), International Mountain Guides (IMG), Madison Mountaineering, Mountain Professionals, and Summit Climb are all running full teams.
Out of US/Australia is Climbing the Seven Summits.
European teams on their way include Russian-based 7 Summits Club with another large team. Alex Abramov, their leader, usually climbs on the north side, but this year has 20 members and seven guides supported by 28 Sherpas for both Everest and Lhotse. Austrian-based Furtenbach Adventures has a solid group that is exploring exciting new technologies to make their climbs safer. Please see my interview or listen to the podcast I did with Lukas on this subject a few weeks ago. Another Austrian outfit, Kobler & Parter will be there.
Nepali companies include Asian Trekking, Elite, Imagine Nepal, Peak Promotions, Seven Summits Treks all with mostly Indian members.
Not Climbing in 2021
A few foreign companies have chosen to sit out this season primarily due to COVID concerns plus logistic difficulty and restrictions in their country. Those usually there but not this spring include Adventure Consultants, Adventure Peaks, Alpenglow, Jagged Globe.
Quarantine or No Quarantine?
This has been on and off for months now. As we begin to see climbers arrive, the government has now decided IF you have been vaccinated and IF you test several times with the PCR test as negative, you will be allowed to skip quarantine. I have been told firsthand that all of these rules are unevenly enforced if at all, so I anticipate business as usual in Kathmandu with money and greed trumping health and safety. You can see the new rules, for what it’s with at this link.
With Nepal’s censorship campaign around photos, don’t look for any bad news to come out of the Everest expeditions fearing deportment, fines, and bans from further climbing. Nepal is looking more and more like a cold war country of suppression relative to climbing. I’m beginning to feel more and more that Ecuador is a better choice for 6000-meter peaks and Pakistan for 8,000er.
The only way to get Nepal’s government officials’ attention is with money, so the time may come to boycott Nepal for climbing to address their silly rules and lack of legitimate oversight of their mountains. Of course, this assumes a stable government …
Annapurna is seeing over 50 people (just clients) this spring. A huge number for the world’s deadliest 8000er. Most are on their way to Base Camp now and expect to make a summit attempt in mid-April. The rope team has already established Camp 1.
Supporting the Teams
The medical volunteer group of Everest ER is also on its way to EBC. They provide an invaluable service for all Nepali and Sherpas at no-charge while asking a nominal fee of around $100 from each foreigner at base camp for complete medical services. I’m sure they are staffed and prepared should COVID emerge. The Docs this year include Dr. Suraj Shrestha is a graduate of the Institute of Medicine, Tribhuwan University, Dr. Prakash Kharel, a graduate of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Tribhuwan University in Nepal, and the first female Nepali doctor volunteer at Everest ER, Dr. Sangeeta Poudel a medical graduate from Kist Medical College and Teaching Hospital currently working at Banepa Hospital in Nepal.
The Icefall Doctors are already working on the route to Camp 2 via the Khumbu Icefall. No word on route conditions but in speaking with several guides, they noted the Icefall has “smoother” out in the last few years making for a faster, less dangerous journey.
I have begun to create my annual team location table and tracking climber’s blogs (see sidebar). If you have a team not listed, please let me know and I will add them if I can track them. If you prefer not to be mentioned, please contact me.
I am now posting background articles and interviews between now and early April when the teams arrive at the base camps. If you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or drop me an email.
Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill!
Memories are Everything
Here’s the video version of the weekend update:
The Podcast on alanarnette.com
You can listen to #everest2021 podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Anchor, and more. Just search for “alan arnette” on your favorite podcast platform.