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Karakorum climbing season on the edge: Nepalis BANNED

Pakistan classifies countries into three health categories, A, B, and C. Citizens of A-list countries are welcome without even a PCR. Those from B-list ones should bring a recent PCR and will have a quick test at the airport, to ensure a negative result.

Meanwhile, those from C-list countries are banned, except for special reasons. India and Nepal are on the C-list.

Yesterday, Pakistan issued a set of regulations to reopen the country to foreigners as of May 24, under strict COVID-19 protocols. The regulations ban entry to anyone from C-list countries.

Authorities even issued a special clarifying document, below, for expeditions.

It states that “all mountaineers, trackers, or high-altitude porters from Nepal AND those individuals who have been in Nepal in [the] past three weeks ARE NOT ALLOWED to enter the country. There are no exceptions.”

This excludes not only recreational climbers but also the Nepali Sherpas that many international expeditions rely upon, as well as Nepal’s powerful outfitters.

Even foreigners who are still in Nepal — including all those currently on Everest — will have to spend three weeks at home before entering Pakistan.

It also requires that all climbers must be fully vaccinated.

Some might still wait and see if things change: The K2 and Gasherbrum season sometimes lasts until mid-August. But even if restrictions ease, it could be too late to arrange large commercial expeditions.

Nirmal Purja’s case is interesting. He holds dual Nepali-British citizenship, and his company, Elite Exped, is based in the UK. He may just need to go to England for some weeks before his planned K2+Broad Peak double-header. But his Nepali partners won’t be joining him.

As a response to the ban on Nepalis, Mingma G, the leader of Imagine Nepal, today decided to cancel his summer expedition.

He expressed sorrow to his staff and clients, then added, “This is also a good opportunity for our Pakistani climber brothers to show who they are and what they can do on mountains.”

And what of Nepal’s biggest outfitter, Seven Summit Treks?

SST, Mingma G, and Nirmal Purja led the last big expedition to Pakistan, to K2 in winter. It ended successfully for 10 Nepali climbers, who bagged the first winter ascent.

But five other climbers died, including three who vanished during a second summit push.

At last word, Sajid Sadpara of Pakistan is still leading an expedition to K2, partly to remove garbage and old ropes from the Abruzzi Spur, and partly to try to find the remains of his father, Mohammad Ali Sadpara, one of the men lost on the mountain.

Emergency planning is harder in Pakistan than in Nepal, mainly because helicopter airlifts between K2 Base Camp and Skardu, managed by the military’s Askari Aviation, costs from $20,000 to $25,000, compared to Nepal’s $2,800.

Source: Angela Benavides – Explorersweb

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