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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
Apr 302021

Well, after yesterday’s headline of “The Covid situation at EBC is a total shitstorm” it’s business as usual for most teams on Everest. I even got this comment from Alpine Ascents, “Maybe their Basecamp is a “shitshow”, ours is not.” Another comment called the post, “publishing one woman’s hysterical account does a disservice to those who really are trying for a safe and successful season.” OK, so there you have it. Meanwhile, the government continues to deny any issues at all.

The weather continues to be good for this time of the season with day-time highs near freezing at base camp. The ropes are to the South Col and expected to reach the summit soon.  The virus is definitely the main topic throughout Nepal with the country locking down and limiting travel in and out. But at Everest Base Camp, it seems like a mixed bag. Some teams think the virus is much to do about nothing, while others are worried. Hard to tell facts from fiction or denial.

So, let’s look at what the non-hysterical teams are saying:

First from a team member, Meghan Buchanan, of the person who made the “shitstorm” post:

“ I am truly sorry for the experience Gina had within a 12 hr time period, especially after such a great accomplishment on Annapurna. However, I am in a team at the same camp (for a few weeks) and experiencing something very different.

1st- if you are extremely concerned about getting covid, while we are still in a pandemic, I would recommend pushing your expeditions to 2022 or beyond.

2nd- Myself, and my team have taken the Covid covenant (we fully read and agreed too) seriously and have remained vigilant to protect not only ourselves, but our Nepalese support crew. We have nearly ALL already had covid AND/OR have been vaccinated (prior to arrival to Nepal). That is a portion of the data points i considered when deciding to move forward with a 2021 Everest expedition. If I did not have antibodies and been vaccinated, I personally would not have come. And if I had come, not ensuring I was protected against covid, but decided to leave because we are indeed still in the middle of a pandemic (which is totally valid), I would NOT be looking at going on another expedition in only 1 month. We will still be in a pandemic. So, this reasoning does not hold up.

I believe it selfish and irresponsible to start a dumpster fire right before your helicopter ride out of base camp. I want to make sure readers understand and that there are many of us here on Everest that have taken great precautions, as well as remain vigilant to protect ourselves, and others, from Covid. My entire team is extremely healthy, happy and gets tested regularly. It is NOT a “shit storm” for everyone here at base camp. Rather, in my experience, it is a group of people taking the utmost precaution to protect and support each other as we move forward to achieve our goal of summiting the highest peak in the world.”

Ascent Himalayas is optimistic posting:
The route has been fixed upto camp 4.Some of our team members has completed the rotation and some are waiting for the good weather to start the rotation.All our team are safe and looking forward to summit by second week of may.
The Western Guided Team takes in the unique landscape of base camp on an acclimatization hike as they prepare for their second rotation
Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering also reports progress:
Birds eye view of our @madisonmtng #Everest base camp this morning. Some fresh snowfall, sunshine, and a fresh cup of coffee make for a great start to the day! In the center of our camp are the @mountainhardwear space station dome tents, which provide shelter from the elements here at 17,500’ / 5,303m. We’re resting up from our first rotation and excited for another trip to the higher camps in a few days time!
Imagine Nepal is on the move:
Having puja ceremony and ice climbing+Ladder Crossing practice at base camp, tomorrow we are heading to camp1 and then to camp2 and camp3 for our first rotation and acclimatization. Our Sherpa team will work on setting camp3 and camp4 during this day. We will be back to base camp on 4th May.
David Göttler who is climbing the Big E without Os noted:
One more from my last rotation up to 6800meter on the Lhotse face between C2 and C3. The face itself was super dry. I hope with the recent small snowfalls it changes to a bit better and safer conditions.

And KilianJornet made this comment on his West Ridge ,no O’s attempt with  David Göttler

Looking forward to be back on thin air terrain. When @david_goettler texted me last year we didn’t need much words to plan a climb together. A simple idea and a high possibility of faillure summarizes perfectly what we’re searching during the next weeks in the Khumbu regio
From a climber with the name Bold, Brave, Beautiful:
The plan is to go to camp one and stay the night. Then go to camp 2. We will stay two nights and then we will head up to touch camp 3 and then come back down and sleep at camp 2 for our 3rd night there. The next day we will head back down to base camp. Spirits are high and everyone is excited to get on the mountain! We are hoping to do one rotation on the mountain and then do a summit push but if the jet stream lingers too long next week it could change it all up. Life in the mountains is always an adventure. Wish us luck!

And on Dhaulagiri, Expedition Base reports in:

Expedition Base team members are at Dhaulagiri base camp, planning to head up the mountain for a rotation tomorrow, weather and conditions permitting. Its been a mixed bag so far regarding weather. Luckily, the team are not in a hurry, they can take their time. They are acclimatised and where they need to be – resting, eating, keep warm, doing a few hikes around the area to keep the blood flowing and enjoying being in the mountains. All the best, team. We are watching and wishing you the very best!

I hope these teams (and the others) are correct and have escaped any difficulty. With the jet stream staying away, we might see early summits this year, but I’ve heard that before.

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 30.

  • Everest: 408 on 43 teams
  • Lhotse: 125 on 14 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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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.

Comments on/from Facebook

  14 Responses to “Everest 2021: What Virus?”


    I’m glad someone said it. As soon as i saw the words “hysterical woman”, I rolled my eyes. That account was hardly “hysterical”, it was merely a report from EBC. People are idiots. Somethings never change.


    We don’t use hysterical to describe men because it comes from the Latin word “hystericus”, meaning “of the womb”. It used to be thought that if a woman expressed anger or disapproval, it was not a valid viewpoint, but merely a sign of some problem of the humours arising in the womb. So what did they do to “cure” the woman? They removed her uterus. Often against her will! All for the crime of speaking up. The whole idea of “hysteria” has deep deep roots in misogyny, and none of us should still be using the term in this day and age.


    Thank you. Yep, men can be angry but are never called hysterical. Alan, please remove the “non-hysterical teams” reference. I don’t believe you intended this backslap, but it comes off as insulting and as you noted we do not have the full story. They are simply the teams on Everest, making public posts.


    Cool that we’re still using “hysterical” to undermine women’s judgement in 2021.


    It’s ridiculous for people to be on Everest right now. All it takes is one person to break their camp bubble for it to be worthless. That, combined with the already-existing respiratory issues just being there can cause, is a recipe for disaster.

    And that camp bubble has to stay intact all the way up to the summit and back.


    Given that the US has today declared a travel ban from India, as other countries have already done, some even going to a total flight ban, Nepal has a problem. Nepal Covid numbers will lag India, but they are on a steep upward trend. It won’t be long before the travel bans hit Nepal. Hope those climbers are healthy and having a great time, because they could be stuck in Nepal after their climb. And the MoT’s denial of a problem is ludicrous. In fact, their denial and threats makes me think the problem is even bigger, not smaller. But we won’t know until climbers have left the country.


    Sherpa friends in Kathmandu have reported that they are going into a curfew style lockdown in the capitol for two weeks starting this morning. Drastic measures like that are only taken by the government when the situation threatens to get totally out of hand.


    Alan did you cover adventure consultants stopping their business? I’m sorry if I missed it. My search capabilities are poor


    I’m assuming the Nepalese government controls the ISP providing Everest Internet access. If so, then I’m also assuming that the Nepalese government can monitor all communications, which in turn means that it’s in the best interest of the operators to toe the line drawn by the government officials. If this is all true, then nothing the operator says can be assumed to be truthful.

    We can only wait for returning climbers to come back with their stories.


    Alan – I think you posted the same quote twice. I don’t see the one from Killian.

    Also, I believe that Everest will have Covid issues though I don’t know who there has been vaccinated. With Nepal locking down, it seems impossible that no cases made it (or will make) it to Base Camp.

    A friend of mine thinks it’s selfish for people to be climbing Everest and using oxygen, when availability of oxygen may become an issue for basic medical supplies. I’m ambivalent about that but I see the point.

    I’ve been enjoying the videos and podcasts. Leave it to you to keep pushing forward with your work.

    Take care


    Thanks for widening the perspective, Alan. I must admit, though, that considering Everest’s history of dramatic events, “it’s business as usual for most teams on Everest” is not necessarily a reassuring comment! (It’s Nepal, y’all)