Normally at this time of the year hundreds of climbers would be making their way into Kathmandu in preparation for a busy climbing season on Mt. Everest. Typically, the first teams would be starting their trek to Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain right about now, while others would be preparing to cross the border tint Tibet to take on the North Side instead. Thanks to COVID-19, that isn’t happening however, and aside from a single team of Chinese national climbers, the mountain is completely empty this year. That leaves those of us who follow the Everest climbing scene closely each year with little to talk about. But one prominent mountaineering blogger has come up with an alternative option that can at least help to alleviate the lack of new emanating from the Himalaya this year.
Alan Arnette has launched what he calls Virtual Everest 2020, which will unfold much the same way a typical season would progress over the next few weeks. To accomplish that, Alan is not only providing insights from his own vast experience in Himalayan climbing, but also by creating a fictional (but lifelike) account of a climber heading to Nepal to take on the world’s highest peak. So far, that has includes some background information and preparing to leave home for the start of the expedition, as well as some insights into what it is like to arrive in Kathmandu at the start of the season. Future installments will take us along the entire process of the climb, including living in BC, acclimatizing to the altitude, and an eventual summit push of course. These regular installments should come at a measured pace over the next month or so, with a possible virtual summit to be timed with the actual weather in Nepal sometime around mid-May.
While this should be an entertaining and distracting project to follow, Arnette isn’t doing it just to help us get our Everest fix. Instead, he’s hoping to use his virtual Everest season to raise funds for the Sherpas in Nepal, many of whom are now without a means of earning an income for the foreseeable future. To assist in that process, Alan has recruited some of the top guide companies in the world to be a part of his online-only, virtual expedition, allowing us to donate to the cause for the specific Sherpas of those companies. To see which companies are participating—and get a link to donate to their crew—click here.
It should be fun and interesting to watch how this develops. Right now, it looks like we can expect regular postings in the weeks ahead to help set the scene and give us a deeper understanding of what it is like to climb Everest. It won’t be the same as following the real climbers as they go, but it should still be insightful and entertaining.
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