As Nepal edges closer to reopening to visitors this fall, the number of trekkers and climbers interested in visiting the Himalayan country at the moment remains in question. But at least one team will make the journey in the coming weeks, as it is now confirmed that members of the Bahrain Royal Guard will attempt Lobuche and Manaslu. And unlike some of the other rumored potential expeditions that have popped up in recent days, this one seems to be confirmed.
According to The Himalayan Times, members of the Nepali government held a meeting this past Sunday, during which they decided to allow a charter flight from Bahrain, despite the fact that the borders remain closed to foreign visitors. That flight is now scheduled to take place on September 15, bringing an 18-member squad made of 15 Bahrainians and 3 British citizens. The group will be supported throughout their expedition by Nepali guide service Seven Summit Treks. Upon arrival, the climbers will first go through COVID-19 protocols, which could keep them in quarantine for the first two weeks in Nepal.
After that, the plan is for the team to first travel to Lobuche to warm up and acclimate on that 6119-meter (20,075 ft) peak. Once the climbers have wrapped up on that mountain, they’ll then head to Manaslu, which stands at 8163 meters (26,784 ft). This could potentially make this the one and only 8000-meter expedition of the autumn season, as at the moment there are no other teams that are confirmed to be traveling to the Himalaya.
Anyone who has followed the ongoing coronavirus situation in Nepal already knows that the country remains closed to foreign visitors. In fact, the government there has struggled with when to reopen, as the virus continues to be a persistent challenge. Thanks to its connection with Bahrain’s royal family, exceptions were made to allow this squad to travel to Nepal for the climb. The team is reportedly led by Prince Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa and is being coordinated and funded by Prince Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa. No doubt, a sizable “donation” was made to the right people in Nepal to ensure that the expedition could move forward.
If everything goes well, and the team performs as expected, the group expects to return to Nepal in the spring to attempt Everest. That seems like a long way off at the moment, but the 2021 spring climbing season is shaping up to be a very busy one.