On the roof of the world, Antonina Samoilova holds a blue and yellow panel that reads “Stand with Ukraine” while her father and brother are serving in the army to defend their country against Russian aggression.
The 33-year-old had tears in his eyes when he hoisted the Ukrainian flag on the summit of Mount Everest last week, he said after returning to Kathmandu today.
He is concerned that the world’s attention is being diverted from his country’s plight after Russia’s invasion.
“It’s a pity … it’s not good for our Ukrainians because we need more help, we need the whole world to help us,” he told AFP. “It simply came to our notice then.
“Before the expedition I knew I was the only Ukrainian on Everest this year. It forced me to climb because I knew who it was if it weren’t for me.” He said.
Mrs. Samoilova was on top of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain, when news of the Russian invasion reached her.
Her first update on the war comes from a Kyiv bomb shelter where her sister was hiding.
When he ascended the summit of Everest, the days without contact with his father and brother weighed heavily on the minds of those who volunteered to fight.
Upon returning, he learned that their territory was quiet. “I was ‘Huh! Thank God!'” He said.
And after arriving at base camp, his phone rang with hundreds of messages of support from friends and strangers.
“Tonia, you are not just our pride, you are the pride of the whole of Ukraine,” her father said in a text.
Nepal has issued 319 permits to foreign climbers for this year’s Everest Spring Mountaineering Season, each with at least one guide, which runs from mid-April to the end of May.
After the epidemic closed in 2020, the country reopened its peaks for mountaineers only.
A rare window of good weather has already allowed more than 450 climbers and guides to reach the summit of Everest as a team of Nepali mountaineers opened the route on May 7, bringing relief to expeditionists.
At least three climbers, one Russian and two Nepalese, have died on Everest since the start of the season.
Mrs. Samoilova aims to join the Climbers’ Selected Club to scale the Seventh Summit – the highest mountain on each continent – and has already completed Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe and Mount Vinson in Antarctica.
But first, he plans to visit his sister and nephew, who fled to Croatia, before returning to his father and brother in Ukraine.
“I just want to hug them,” she said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)