Everest 2021: “The Covid situation at EBC is a total shitstorm. I had no clue what I was flying into.”

Nepal issued even more Everest and Lhotse permits smashing the 2019 record. Now at 408 for Everest and 123 for Lhotse but the real headline is from a climber who left base camp :

I have taken a helicopter out of EBC back to Kathmandu after 1 day. The Covid situation at EBC is a total shitstorm. I had no clue what I was flying into. It felt asinine to even be there. It was a heartbreaking decision but I’m putting my health first. Covid at a high altitude does not sound like something I want to play with. \Will hopefully fly home within the next couple of days and focus on K2 for June. There’s just way too many people at EBC this year. Wishing all of the climbers there to be safe and successful but this girl is getting the hell out of dodge.
I’m not sure she will make it to Pakistan as COVID is also exploding in Pakistan and many airlines are canceling flights to Pakistan. The summer season in the Karakorum is at significant risk. Of course, the virus is out of control in India and is hitting neighboring countries. Most likely, any country with frequent contact with India will be impacted.

Season Cancelled?

As I discuss in yesterday’s podcast, I don’t see Nepal closing Everest even though they have implemented a limited lockdown in Nepal for another week. The issue is pride and saving face. After all, at one point the Nepal Prime Mister said that Nepal is a “COVID Free Country”. Now, Nepal is seeing a huge spike of 2,000 to 3,000 new cases each day.

It will probably be left to the individual climbers like to evaluate the risk and make their decision. Guides have been sued recently for canceling expeditions for any reason, including their clients’ safety,  so they are a bit shy.

The best people can do is to isolate, eat their meals in their tents, stay separated, even on the fixed rope. With over 400 people (and getting fewer by the day) there, this will be difficult. Perhaps it’s time for some team meetings and truth talk.

Nepal Permit Update: Record

The permits for Everest surpassed the previous record of 382 foreign permits set in 2019. The Nepal Ministry of Tourism posted these foreign permit tally as of April 28.

  • Everest: 408 on 44 teams
  • Lhotse: 123 on 13 teams
  • Nuptse: 38 on 4 teams
  • Manaslu: 1 on 1 team (over)
  • Annapurna: 44 on 4 teams (Over)
  • Dhaulagiri: 33 on 5 teams
  • Pumori: 9 on 2 teams
  • 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
  • Baruntse: 12 on 1 team

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

Follow Along

I am updating 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. Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill!

Climb On!
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13 thoughts on “Everest 2021: “The Covid situation at EBC is a total shitstorm. I had no clue what I was flying into.”

  1. Articles like this are inflammatory and do no good besides stirring up drama and “I told you sos” from armchair readers. Having just left after trekking with an expedition group, I can attest that base camp is not some hysterical unsafe covid zone.

    Everyone in the group I was with had received at least the first dose of a vaccination shot and the camp was arranged so that if there did happen to be visitors, they would be segregated. Many camps are not allowing visitors at all and there’s a general consensus of not socializing this season.

    I appreciate that covid is a real risk, but these people are already there, prepping for their climb, and publishing one woman’s hysterical account does a disservice to those who really are trying for a safe and successful season.

  2. Who is she climbing with (I know who she is climbing with but maybe worth mentioning?) Maybe their Basecamp is a “shitshow”, ours is not.

  3. MANY, many, many thanks for your response! It puts things in perspective. If you are able, please keep informing in your posts what the summer climbing season in PK might look like due to COVID as we get closer, it helps a lot.

    Just to share, I have just finished my online application for the PK Visa (submitted, not yet approved, but all online). Let´s see what the PK government says (they did accept my 60 USD for the processing fee!)

    Abrazo from Mexico

  4. Hello Alan!
    What are your thoughts on Summer PK season? My plans for Broad Peak are still on (June 15 arrival @Islamabad). Has the government said anything about re-closing (like 2020)? Have the airlines really cancelled flights as of now or for summer travel? Your helo, as allways, is greately appreciated

    1. Etihad sent out notices to ISB destination flyers that they had canceled the flight due to COVID in Pakistan. Also, the US State Department has Pakistan listed as a Level 4: “Do not travel to Pakistan due to COVID-19.” https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/pakistan-travel-advisory.html

      I haven’t heard the Pakastani Government mention closing and I doubt they will. They were officially locked down for just a very short time last year.

      Finally, I have a friend who also was planning on Broad, but the Pakistan Embassy in Houston asked him to come there and apply in person. Refused to do it over Zoom, mail, or the phone.

  5. Thanks for this update – doesn’t seem promising for the season and the climbers there at EBC

  6. Smart lady. Everest will always be there tomorrow, if you catch covid at that altitude chances are you won’t be. Hope everyone stays safe.

  7. I have the bad bad impression I’m looking to a disaster slowly preparing to happened and I don’t like that.

  8. I was under the impression that there was a check prior to departing your own country, a test at Katmandu airport on arrival & a period of isolation followed by another check before being release to trek to Everest. If this is the case how is Covid being transmitted..via the Porters & Sherpas?

  9. Alan, have you heard any stats re: the number of climbers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid? It’s a tragedy that anyone is allowed to be on the mountain unvaccinated. I realize vaccine supply has been an issue but it seems this is situation is going to be disastrous.

    1. No clue. Many I spoke with did have the vaccine but the boarder with India is wide open and we know the virus is out of control there and there is a vaccine shortage. The cases well know thus far were from Norway, UK and India so widespread.

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