Mario Celinić Becomes Sixth Croat to Climb Mount Everest!

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Mario Celinić | Mario Celinić Facebook
Mario Celinić | Mario Celinić Facebook

As Jutarnji List reports, they set off for the final ascent on Saturday around 6 pm local time, arriving at the top early this morning. That means he has a whole day ahead of him to go down, which are good circumstances.

Stipe Božić climbed Everest in 1979 and 1989. In 2009, four women’s mountaineering expeditions climbed – sisters Darija and Iris Bostjačić, Ena Vrbek, and Milena Šijan.

This year proved to be complicated for the ascent of Everest due to the pandemic that reached the base camp as well. At one point, Celinić tested positive for coronavirus at base camp. A few days after completing the first part of the acclimatization and the first rotation, he returned to Kathmandu by helicopter.


Mario Celinić | Mario Celinić Facebook

He spent seven days at the hotel, passing tests every day as his Covid-19 was asymptomatic. He was feeling well physically and impatiently waiting to return to base camp, knowing he was missing the part of the acclimatization he would have to do, and the time to climb Everest was limited in May.

Then, saying what a physical and mental profile a man must be to decide to climb Everest, he wrote: 

“You have to be physically strong enough to handle your weight and a ten-pound backpack. You have to have mountaineering experience. You have to know how to climb ice and rocks and be used to scenes of heights, abysses. You have to be prepared for cold, headaches, insomnia. …

What I feared most, what I was weak with, and what I had yet to overcome was patience and unpredictable situations. I like to have things under control and know at least a general situation. I was ready, and I accept the situation that I will have to sit in a tent if I need ten days due to bad weather or that it will be crowded on the climb, so I will stand for two hours waiting in line … I was by no means prepared for coronavirus.”

When they told him that his coronavirus test was positive, he was mentally shaken. “That’s why I didn’t call almost anyone. The day after I gave an interview to Jutarnji List about how Covid-19 came to the Everest base camp, I got a positive test. Before I had to go on the first rotation up to 7000 meters and do the final training and acclimatization, we took a Covid test. I was then transported by helicopter to Kathmandu for self-isolation. I spent eight days there lying in bed in a hotel room completely healthy or at least without the symptoms caused by the corona. There were nights when I cried because I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Then I consoled myself that I wasn’t sick, at least because there were people on the team with pretty bad symptoms. Severe cough, fever … some ended up in the hospital. I got tested every day, but the test was always positive. That destroyed me. At times I forgot why I was here at all. Some people from the team who had symptoms after five days got a negative test and returned to the mountain. I lay in bed healthy and get a positive test every day. That broke me. I didn’t count on that. I asked for a second opinion. I started yelling at everyone and everything. I wanted to leave the team, leave the agency and climb the mountain on my own. I thought, ‘who can forbid me?.”

However, after seven days of psychological agony, Celinić received a negative test.

“Both me and the man from the agency that took care of the climbers cried. He drove me to the hospital every day, and he cried when I got a negative test because he couldn’t look at me so broken anymore. Before he gave me the test, he clenched his fists and lifted them into the air as if he had won something and told me, “Mario, you beat Covid. You’re finally negative.” And then we cried. All there was to do now was arrange a ride back.”

The organizers recommended that he not return immediately to the base camp, at an altitude of about 5,300 meters, because the body had lost acclimatization. They suggested that he be taken away and lowered to a slightly lower Lobuche so that he could walk to the base camp on foot for two days. 

“Of course, I flew directly to the base camp and in two days was in the first altitude camp above the ice waterfall at 6000m. If my guide and friend Big Tendi hadn’t answered me, I would probably be coming down from the top now. Or maybe not …” said Celinić. 

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