Everest 2021 Season Wrap Up

Heli Everest Base Camp

Update from Kathmandu

Scott Woolums, Expedition Manager

The climbers are all down and safe in Kathmandu now. We flew out from base camp on the 24th by helicopter as several of the lodges and tea houses we use for trekking (as well as several villages) are closed to avoid the spread of COVID right now. We’re enjoying the Hyatt Hotel in Kathmandu now as we work out new plans to get home after the climb. Everything is shut down in the city so no sightseeing or visiting temples, we’re back in full COVID lock-down mode. Fortunately the Hyatt has beautiful grounds surrounding the hotel where we can get outside to move around with tennis courts and a running track.  Our gear and supplies are all off the mountains and our entire staff is on their way back home after another round of Covid testing to ensure they don’t bring anything unwanted back to their families.

2021 Everest Season Wrap Up

Bill Allen, Mountain Trip Himalaya Program Director / Guide

It was a difficult season on many levels, from the weather to the number of climbers, and of course… COVID concerns on top of it all. In the end, we did our best to manage all of the hazards as best we can, as usual, but the objective hazards were adding up. We had delays due to COVID as we were testing regularly, and after members of our Sherpa team tested positive we went into a camp quarantine, putting climbing on hold. This delay would not, in itself, have shut down our opportunity to get a shot at the summit this year, but our window of opportunity to make it happen was small.  That window was ultimately closed completely by the two significant named Typhoons that affected the Himalayas this year. A Typhoon coming into the Himalaya not only brings wind, moisture, and generally bad weather, it brings warm tropical air. A typhoon coming into the Himalaya will generally shut down climbing for several days, but doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the season. The challenge with the timing this year is that the warm tropical air mass can really affect the already unstable Khumbu Icefall at the end of the season, causing even more collapses and creating unsafe conditions. Even on a good year, we are trying to get down and out of the icefall by the 27th or 28th of May. This was not a good year for stability in the icefall and for our team a late season summit with climbers and particularly our Sherpa staff making multiple trips through the icefall at the end of May or even early June was not a risk we were willing to take, or ask our staff to take. Today we are really happy to have all of our team including our staff back down off of Everest safely. We did have a couple of our Sherpa team test positive for COVID and they are recovering well and will be out of quarantine and headed home soon. Ultimately we’re happy with the decisions that our team made, and although everyone is disappointed in not getting a chance to summit, we have to count as a success the fact that everyone will go home at the end of this difficult season.
Was our expedition cancelled due to Covid? Not solely, but it certainly played a factor in everything this year, not just for our team on Everest.
The next step for our climbers is navigating international travel, which has been all but shut down out of Nepal. We have been able to secure spots on the few charter flights that are available for foreigners that need to leave Nepal. As more climbers start to arrive in Kathmandu, we’re grateful once again for the help of our local team at Expedition Himalaya. Nabin and his staff have been working overtime during a complete lockdown in Kathmandu to manage getting the helicopters out of the Khumbu, rooms at the Hyatt, and seats on flights out of Nepal.
Our team is already planning for the 2022 Everest season, once again we’ll plan to go from the Tibet side and see what happens in the world in the next 10 months…
We’ll post some more pics to wrap up the season, but for now this is the last post for our 2021 Everest Expedition.  Thanks to all the climbers, guides, and our team in Nepal that helped make this happen and got everyone home at the end!
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