While the world seemed fixated with the various struggles taking place on Everest, two Czech alpinists -- Marek Holeček and Radoslav Groh – overcame an ordeal a couple of valleys away from Everest at Mt Baruntse (7,129 metres).

Marek and Radoslav had set off in an attempt to climb the mountain from a new route on the northwest face. The two alpinists used no fixed ropes and without back up support, depending only on their own skill, confidence and luck to see themselves through.

On May 25, they successfully summitted Baruntse through the new route on NW face, however, an ascent was only a half way. Due to the impact of Cyclone Yaas that was creating high strong winds and huge snowfall, they got trapped in Baruntse.

Marek shared from his satellite phone, on May 25, "We didn't even take pictures, no expressions of joy, and we immediately continued until the hellish weather allowed us to descend. We are in the seven thousand, where we built the sixth bivouac. We pray that tomorrow at least for a while it will be visible and we can descend. We are very tired!"

The next day, they were still at the peak. "White darkness - We are trapped by the weather," said Marek. They get down as far as 6900 metres and remained in another bivouac on the ridge of Baruška.

The pair was immobile as the weather was unchanged on May 27 and then 28, hoping that the weather would improve on Saturday, May 29, as per the forecast.

They survived another stormy night in a hurricane and under heavy snowfall, they recall, "We had to constantly dig the tent out of the snow. All our prayers move forward to Saturday."

As weather cleared on Saturday, they were able to descend along and down the ridge and get as low as 1100 m in terrible avalanche snow as they waited for the last frozen night before reaching Lukla.

Photo Courtesy: Ian Wall/Off the Wall Trekking
Photo Courtesy: Ian Wall/Off the Wall Trekking

It was expected that if they reach Lukla, a helicopter would fly them to Kathmandu at 5 in the morning.

The rescuers knew that the pair is "exhausted but alive".

Due to the amount of snow, it was not possible to leave the basecamp in the usual way. All expeditions in the area were cancelled due to the large amount of snow that fell in a short time.

Finally, they did make it through on the said day and were successfully evacuated. The helicopter took them to Kathmandu.

As they arrived in Kathmandu, Marek expressed, "The whole climb was nothing against returning to Kathmandu." He added, "I forward that I'm fine, but the time is special."

"First, after landing in Kathmandu in a helicopter, I was taken to an international clinic. It is a procedural matter from which is impossible to escape. There they took my blood three times, so they bled me regularly," he quipped. "Then they x-rayed me and then evaluated that I needed oxygen urgently. In the end, I got about 1000 different pills. So I could immediately become a drug distributor. When I refused to take the pills and do anything else with it, they came to the conclusion that I was not normal and that I would die for sure. I risked it and an ambulance took me through the deserted city back to my Buba Hotel," he said lightheartedly.

Marek excitedly shared that "Heavenly Trap", the name of the new route to Baruntse, is a worldwide success.

"The only thing that still remains difficult is the fact that no plane is flying home yet. We'll probably have to walk home."

Marek Holeček and Radoslav Groh successfully climb Mt Baruntse through a new route from North-West face, on May 25, 2021. Photo Courtesy: Marek Holeček
Marek Holeček and Radoslav Groh successfully climb Mt Baruntse through a new route from North-West face, on May 25, 2021. Photo Courtesy: Marek Holeček