Plans for the fall 2020 climbing season in the Himalaya look like they’re starting to take shape. While we’re still a couple of months away from the traditional start of the season, Nepali operators eager to get back to business have begun announcing plans for the months ahead. That includes organizing expeditions to the 8000 meter peaks, most of which have remained empty so far this year. But as the pandemic lockdown begins to ease across Nepal, and international air travel is set to resume on August 1, the hope is that travelers will return to the big mountains, bringing a much needed influx of business along with them.
As with most of the rest of the world, Nepal has been shutdown for the past three months as it has dealt with the spread of the coronavirus. That included closing Mt. Everest for the spring season, a time when the mountain is typically extremely busy. This closure has hit the country extremely hard, leaving tens of thousand of people without work in an economy that is already fragile. Many Nepalis work directly in the tourism industry or in one of its subsidiaries, so with travel shutdown there as been little work. There is still hope that the fall climbing and trekking seasons can be salvaged however, averting further disaster.
One of the first companies to announce fall climbing expeditions is none other than Imagine Nepal. The company’s founder, Mingma G, posted an update to his Facebook page a few days back declaring: “We are now taking booking for Manaslu 8163m and Dhaulagiri 8176m. Both the mountains are guaranteed to run so anyone willing to go Dhaulagiri and Manaslu are welcome to join our team. ” Of particular interest is that these expeditions are “guaranteed to run,” meaning Mingma is pretty confident that these climbs are going to take place. Whether or not anyone shows up to take part remains to be seen.
Imagine is the first company I’ve seen to officially go on the record as having expeditions planned for the autumn, although others will likely soon follow suit. It’ll be interesting to see just how many of them are Nepali companies and how many are western outfitters. Both are desperate to get back to business I’m sure, although the Nepalis are probably even more so.
With the summer Karakoram season in serious doubt and the fall Himalayan season still murky, the question remains. Would you be ready to go climb an 8000 meter peak by September of this year? Considering the current situation here in the U.S., I’m not sure I’d be ready to travel by then.
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