Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sherpas vs. Climbers: World’s Highest Altitude Brawl

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 9:56 AM

  • Jon Griffith

Ever since the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, chronicled in Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," it's become clear that the world's highest mountain needs a break. Too many people on the same route has led to excessive trash, dangerous climbing conditions and a general disrespect of local Sherpa culture, experts say. But lately Everest is seeing even more attempts by Westerners, not less, thanks to expensive "luxury expeditions," which cater to those who can pay exorbitant guiding costs.

This weekend, tempers flared when a group of tired Sherpas perceived an air of disrespect from three experienced, professional solo climbers: Italian Simone Moro, Swiss Ueli Steck, and Briton Jonathan Griffith.

From The Telegraph:

The climbers descended the slopes to Camp 2 where a “mob” of 100 Sherpas kicked them and pelted them with rocks, they said. They “owed their lives” to a small group of Western climbers at the camp who “acted as a buffer between the out of control mob and the climbers”. Later however they were warned “if they weren't gone in one hour that they would all be killed”.

The Sherpas were responding to an incident that occurred at 24,000 feet—the result of "misunderstanding" between the lead Sherpa of a separate expedition and Moro, who's Italian-accented English is said to be marginal.

It was bound to happen. In a separate article, Griffith offered a possible (likely) explanation:

These commercial trips are based on a lot of luxury and getting you up the mountain and a lot of these Western clients don't even know what the names of their Sherpas are. They carry up their sleeping bags and by the time they get there a cup of tea, sleeping bag and tent are already waiting," he said.

Griffith and his party, scared and deflated, abandoned their expedition.

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