Everest 2021: Avalanche Stops Climbing – Update 1

An avalanche off the West Shoulder of Everest onto the Khumbu Icefall in 2008.


UPDATE APRIL 20, 2021: Correction for #everest2021. There was no avalanche that closed the Icefall today. I confirmed directly with Mike Hamill live from EBC just now. He had part of his team go to C1 today with no issues. I apologize for the misinformation.

The 2021 spring Everest season continues pretty much on track in spite of a few developments. The climbing permits issued by Nepal are approaching the 2019 record numbers so look for crowds similar to 2019 in the usual spots. The weather has been pretty normal as well.

An avalanche off the West Shoulder of Everest made a direct hit on the Khumbu Icefall blocking the route on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. The Icefall Doctors suggest it will take five days to repair.

The Icefall Doctors for this season are Icefall Doctors – Palden Namgel Sherpa, Ang Sarki Sherpa, Mingma Temba Sherpa, Dawa Jangbu Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Nima Wongchu Sherpa, and Phu Chhetar Sherpa.

During this downtime, let’s take a look at some of the stories thus far this season.


The storyline thus far is that there is no storyline! The season is moving at a similar pace as previous seasons, even taking into account this delay due to the avalanche. Each year, something happens that throws a wrench into the well-planned schedules. In 2019 it was Cyclone Fani that shut the mountain down the first week of May.

The fixed ropes are set to the Yellow Band and may have made it to the South Col. This is a bit earlier than in the previous season but these delays won’t have too much of an impact on getting them to the summit by early May. Most teams like to have their acclimatization rotations completed by the end of the first week of May, so there is still plenty of time.

If there is a story, it’s the near-record number of permits issued. I went back and forth earlier this year saying it will be a record year due to the pent-up demand or it will be half of what a normal year has or about 200 permits. Well, it looks like a new record will be set. Climbers from India attracted by low-cost expeditions from Nepali operators are leading the charge.

Thus far COID has not been an issue, at least this is what we are being told officially and unofficially, but as I’ve said, Nepal is censoring bad news so don’t expect to hear anything about the virus.

Chines Base Camp April 2021 courtesy of Tonio Lyu
Chines Base Camp April 2021 courtesy of Tonio Lyu


Amazingly, there are still teams arriving in Kathmandu and on the trek to Everest Base Camp. The permits for Everest continue to grow approaching the 2019 record number of 382. On Everest, there are 284 male clients and 87 female. Overall there have been 659 climbing permits issued thus far for the spring climbing season generating $4.2 million in revenue for the Nepal government.

With these numbers, expect a crowd just like in 2019. The best hope for not repeating the chaos of 2019 is for a long weather window of low winds to spread out the inexperienced climbers and the crowds.

There is one 40-person Chinese national team on the Tibet side, otherwise, it’s closed to foreigners. They established their base camp this past week.

Injuries and Illness

A Sherpa suffered a broken leg on Monday, April 12, 2021. He was in the upper part of the Icefall. He was brought down by helicopter using what’s called a longline, which is basically a rope dangling a liter from the chopper. He’s reported doing well in Kathmandu. Shehroze Kashif aka The Broadboy (he’s the youngest person to have summited Broad Peak) posted this video on his Instagram page:

Sherpa longline rescue from Khumbu Icefall April 19 2021

A climber who shall remain Anonymous is experiencing a perplexing set of medical uses as he tells in his Facebook post from last week. I’m told he was tested again and it came back positive, again:

Not sure if it was altitude sick or Covid-19, or both. They trying to scam me in the hospital. The Covid-19 insurance just turned out to cover rescue not hospital stay. Therefore, refuses to be in this hospital anymore. Here they are going to have $ 1.500 a day and have planned to keep me here for 10 days. I’m going to another hospital immediately. And taking a new pcr test there.

Nepal continues to see a spike in virus cases, but deaths remain comparatively low.

Famous Climbers

Updating a story I broke a couple of weeks ago, it now appears that Kilian Jornet will in fact be on Everest this spring. Originally it was reported he would explore the West Ridge but now reports have him doing a Lhotse-Everest Travers, a true traverse, not a linked climb like others are planning. We’ll see what he actually does and if he has better documentation this time than when he claimed to summit Everest from the Tibet side in one week in 2017.


The weather on and around Everest continues to pretty normal thus far. Winds are gusting to 30-35 mph in the Western Cwm. High enough to make climbers cold but no so bad to stop progress. The winds are supposed to pick up in a few days, so this delay may actually come at the best possible time. There have been days where 3 to 4 inches of new snow has fallen, but again nothing to stop progress. The avalanches are normal and part of the overall terrain around Everest.

Permit Update:

The permits for Everest continue to grow approaching the 2019 record number of 382. The Nepal Ministry of Tourism posted these foreign permit tally thus far. 

  • Everest: 371 on 39 teams
  • Lhotse: 104 on 11 teams
  • Nuptse: 23 on 3 teams
  • Manaslu: 1 on 1 team (over)
  • Annapurna: 44 on 4 teams
  • Dhaulagiri: 30 on 4 teams
  • Pumori: 5 on 1 team
  • Makalu: 20 on 2 teams
  • Ama Dablam: 27 on 2 teams
  • Tukuche: 1 on 1 team
  • Tilichho: 8 on 1 team
  • Tengkangpoche: 2 on 1 team
  • Barun Tse: 12 on 1 team

The Tibet side closed to foreigners but there are 40 Chinese nationals reported now at base camp.


Some of the Annapurna summiters will move to Dhaulagiri but the route fixing hasn’t begun. Among the climber is 82-year-old Carlos Soria is on this 12th (yes twelfth) has arrived at Dhaulagiri Bas Camp after trekking in the Khumbu for acclimatization. He only has it and Shishapangma to complete climbing all fourteen of the 8000-meter peaks.

The Slovak-Romanian team lead by Peter Hamor with Marius Gane and Horia Colibășanu has made progress on their attempt the North-West ridge and then descend along the North-East ridge.

Follow Along!

Visit my annual team location table and tracking climber’s blogs (see sidebar) to see where everyone is perched. 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.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Here’s the video version of today’s post:

Everest 2021-Avalanche Stops Climbing

The Podcast on alanarnette.com

You can listen to #everest2021 podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Anchor, YouTube, and more. Just search for “alan arnette” on your favorite podcast platform.

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3 thoughts on “Everest 2021: Avalanche Stops Climbing – Update 1

  1. Great update sounds like Everest could have lots of traffic jams. Hope all stay safe.

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