What is surprising this year is that these climbs of Ama Dablam have happened during the middle of a pandemic, and Nepal has been closed for trekking and mountaineering since March until foreign teams were finally allowed back in mid-September.
Even before that, a Bahraini military team got special permission to climb Mt Manaslu, and an all-Nepali expedition climbed Baruntse. And during the pandemic in spring, the Chinese climbed Mt Everest and Cho Oyu from the north. Besides the expeditions in Ama Dablam this autumn, the only others were a Nepali team on Gyalzen Peak and two trekking teams on Himlung.
“Ama Dablam is a very attractive and challenging mountain, everyone who has been on the Everest trail dreams one day of climbing it,” says the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association Ang Tshering Sherpa, adding that while most expeditions go for Nepal’s 8,000m peaks in spring, they prefer to climb Ama Dablam in the autumn.
In fact, last November a Kuwaiti expedition got into trouble with the authorities for unfurling a giant flag of the country from the summit and draping over the west face of the mountain. It was visible to the naked eye from Khumjung, which is 3,000m below and 12km away. The Kuwaitis said they were just trying to break a record, and did not know a permission was required.