"FISTICUFFS ON EVEREST" - The Daily Fail at it again

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Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Apr 28, 2013 - 11:37pm PT
I don't know. I think the whole Everest thing is getting a bit out of control.

And can you imagine Sherpa's encountering Ueli Steck types? What thoughts must cross their minds regarding their future. Life is tough, someone has a bad day, which we all do, and things go down.

I have no idea, other than what I've read here, just what happened, but it would be awesome (if possible) for Ueli's group to let it go and help the Sherpa's involved not get wasted by the authorities.

Just a few thoughts from someone that knows not much. Damn, mountaineering is just crazy. Just finishing Everest: The West Ridge by Thomas F. Hornbein.

Page 104, "And so it went. The daylight hours were often spent doing little and accomplishing less in our high sunny world, trapped between the walls of Nuptse and Everest. The heat and stillness were oppressive. Sometimes I would want to take my temperature to make sure I wasn't sick, but it was only glacier lassitude------we called it the 'Cwm gloom,' which was not gloom but a delightful lethargy that must be the Himalayan substitute for sex."

Heard some great stories from Jim Bridwell. That Dude, needs someone to write them down before they get lost. lynnie
klk

Trad climber
cali
Apr 28, 2013 - 11:40pm PT
So you hire people to do something and while they are doing it you do something that makes them feel threatened.

i don't think that's what happened.

as best i can tell from the current reporting, the sherpas were not working for simone, ueli, et al.

at least not on that rope fixing. it appears that these were two separate teams, one a fixing team of sherpas, the other a 3-man indy group, but climbing lines that ran parallel at that point.

so basically, two groups of professionals, independent of each other, but working in close proximity.

it may be that the contractor responsible for base camp ops, cooking & etc., for the ch-i-gb team, was also one of the contractors who paid the sherpa fixing team, but for a different set of clients. i can't tell from the reports available to me now.

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 28, 2013 - 11:42pm PT
The situation is actually a little more complicated Jim. The Sherpas work for the big outfits who have, from the Sherpas up to the western owners, been unhappy for some time now that free lance climbers took advantage of their facilities. The Sherpas are particularly scornful of so called free lance soloists on Everest who use their fixed ropes all the way to the top, then claim they climbed Everest all by themselves.

However well known in the West, Griffith, Moro and Steck are seen as free lancers by the Sherpas. Although they did not use the fixed ropes (they were fixing their own to the left), they were then seen as jeopardizing the Sherpas in part by being unroped and thus dangerous missiles if they should slip and fall which has been known to happen even to the best.

I'm sure the Sherpas felt three ambitious guys were risking them, their livelihood, and the prospects for success of many other people, who also happen to be paying clients. In Asia, the group always supercedes the individual,and the large group the smaller one. It's a classic case of cross-cultural misunderstanding.

The larger question I think, now that so many Sherpas are getting qualified as internationally licensed mountain guides, is whether alpine style ascents dominated by westerners or Sherpa guided ascents will predominate in the Himalayas of the future. A good compromise perhaps, would be for the pros to stay away from Everest, especially the crowded southside, and leave that to the Sherpas and their clients. There are lots of other 8,000 m. peaks with new routes beckoning.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Apr 28, 2013 - 11:53pm PT
The larger question . . . is whether alpine style ascents dominated by westerners or Sherpa guided ascents will predominate in the Himalayas of the future. A good compromise perhaps, would be for the pros to stay away from Everest, especially the crowded southside, and leave that to the Sherpas and their clients.

yeah, that's the crux: everest could become a place where sherpas hang ropes and rich n00b wankers jug them.

and because the mass market cares only about everest, and not about some brutally technical alpine ascent of a different 8k, even folks who would much prefer to be on a different peak get driven to everest. the problem is that the compromise-- sherpas and texas oil execs on everest, serious alpinists on other peaks --isn't functional. at least at the moment.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:03am PT
Thanks Jan,

The majority of your post reflected to me the fact that Everest is considered a work place for those who carry the freight and make a relatively safe route for it's delivery.

Their agenda is making a living and the glory at reaching the top is something second place to a paycheque and coming home to family.

The Sherpas are famous for their level of commitment and care if someone from anywhere gets in trouble.



Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:07am PT
I still can't get over that they named the Swiss climber as "Wool Stick." I saw this initially on their page and thought WTF. Came over here and got the real story. DM is such a rag. They do post interesting stories but NEVER fact check anything. So many errors you'd think a slow 8 year-old child is doing their research work.

Everyone else, thanks for the clarifications on what happened. This is going to be a mess. Sherpas looking out for high ticket clients to come versus brilliant alpinists who want to get up the mountain by their own means.
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:21am PT
why are these three top climbers wasting time on the yak route anyway?
WBraun

climber
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:28am PT
Someone should hire Jan to go over there as a mediator to fix this mess ........?
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:35am PT
FYI it looks like the DM deleted the article. I commented on it and now I can't find the article on their website where it was a few hours ago. I'm sure many across Europe who follow alpinism got on them about this.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:38am PT
What would Donini say?
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Apr 29, 2013 - 12:52am PT
From Simone Moro's website (a bit more coherent than the translation above):

At about 8am on 27th April 2013 Simone Moro (IT), Ueli Steck (CH), and Jonathan Griffith (UK) left Camp 2 to reach a tent at around 7200m (lower Camp 3) on the Lhotse Face of Mount Everest. A team of high altitude sherpas were ‘fixing’ the Lhotse face and the climbers were asked to not touch the fixed ropes they were establishing. As such the trio climbed about 50m away and to the side of the Sherpa team to avoid disturbing them in their work. It should be noted that all three climbers have extensive climbing experience all over the world and were very aware of the work being carried out by the Sherpas and the respect given to them for it.

When the three climbers reached the height of their already established tent, they traversed across the snow and were forced to step over the lines of the Sherpas to reach their tent about 20 meters to the side. The climbers chose to step across the lines at a belay stance where 4 other sherpas were attached to the ice face whilst their lead climber continued to fix the line above. Stepping over the lines does not interfere in any way with the work being carried out. The climbers were soloing and not using ropes so there was no rope tangling either. In addition by passing beneath the lead climber no ice or snow could be knocked down on him. Jonathan Griffith was in the lead at this point and after crossing the rope and traversing another 15 meters on a snow ramp Ueli Steck followed. At the point where Ueli Steck stepped over the rope the lead climber noticed the climbers below and began shouting and banging the ice with his axe erratically. Still shouting down at the climbers, he fixed his rope and abseiled down to the belay stance. As Ueli was soloing and therefore not attached to a rope it was natural that he should hold his hands up to take the impact of the force arriving on him form the lead climber abseiling right on to him. This prompted the lead climber to accuse Ueli Steck of ‘touching him’. In between hitting the ice with all his force and screaming at Ueli Steck ‘

why you touch me’ he said that they had kicked ice down on them and injured a Sherpa. Seeing as the trio were climbing a completely independent line and entirely on snow this is highly unlikely. Ueli Steck tried to help calm the situation by offering to help fix the lines up to Camp 3 but this only made matters worse. Simone Moro then joined the team and the lead climber turned on him wielding his ice axe in his direction. Simone swore at the lead climber as is the natural reaction when faced with this aggression. No amount of talking would calm the lead Sherpa down and as a final act of defiance he ordered his whole team of 17 Sherpas off the Lhotse Face and back to Camp 2. There was no reason to descend off the mountain because of the three climbers. They had not touched or interfered with the Sherpa’s work. To help smooth things over Ueli Steck fixed a further 260m of rope to Camp 3. By the time the climbers descended back to Camp 2 some 100 Sherpas had grouped together and attacked the three climbers. They became instantly aggressive and not only punched and kicked the climbers, but threw many rocks as well. A small group of Westerners acted as a buffer between the out of control mob and the climbers, and they owe their lives to these brave and selfless people. Nevertheless all three climbers were attacked as well as many of the Westerners who were trying to calm the situation down. The climbers were told that by that night one of them would be dead and the other two they would see to later. After about 50 minutes the crowd had calmed down and the climbers, who had been pushed away and told to hide, had regrouped and were told that if they weren’t gone in one hour that they would all be killed.

The climbers packed the bare essentials and made a circuitous route back down to the base of Mount Everest in heavily crevassed terrain with no rope on, feeling that given the current situation this was the safest place to be. The Sherpas said that the reason they attacked the climbers was because they had knocked ice down on a Sherpa below. As it stands no Sherpa has come forward to show any injury. Furthermore on an ice face getting hit by chunks of ice is a very natural occurrence. The climbers believe that the lead Sherpa was tired and cold and felt that his pride had been damaged as the three climbers were moving unroped and much faster to the side of him. Whatever the reason may be, there is no reason to instigate vigilante rule and to try and kill three visiting climbers. The Nepalese authorities have taken the matter very seriously as have commercial teams on the mountain. At the moment the 3 ring leaders have been taken off the mountain and the Police, Ministry of Tourism and the head of the Sherpa Association are investigating. The three climbers would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who saved their lives at Camp 2 and to those who are now taking over the investigation.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 29, 2013 - 02:31am PT
Everyone else, thanks for the clarifications on what happened. This is going to be a mess. Sherpas looking out for high ticket clients to come versus brilliant alpinists who want to get up the mountain by their own means.


I think this is really the wrong way to look at it. Not every client who goes with a commercial expedition is high ticket. Some of them saved for years, mortgaged their house etc. to follow their dream. Why are they less important than a brilliant alpinist? And if those alpinists are so brilliant what are they doing on the cargo route anyway? I know they hoped to do a new route higher up but why there in the height of the season? They're good enough they could do it in the fall instead and have more of a challenge from both weather and less possibility of support.

And finally the really big question, with fourteen peaks above 8,000 meters, why can't brilliant alpinists find somewhere else to climb that doesn't interfere with Sherpa livelihood? The Sherpas think westerners are weird for being so crazy over one mountain, but as long as they make a living, they'll accommodate that craziness. If some other mountain were equally desired, they'd go there.

Sherpas want to support their families and come back alive and they don't have any other means. Brilliant alpinists can climb on any other continent they want.

And finally, am I the only one who thinks climbing unroped above other people on an icy slope, even if they're anchored in, is kind of dangerous in case of a fall? One body hurtlin into another, crampons through the rope and human flesh etc?
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
Apr 29, 2013 - 02:53am PT
TO Clarify for many of you:

Simone Moro - the Pilot whom rescued injured Sherpas off of Everest last year, extracted bodies from Pumori via long line, and retrieved the body af a Canadian woman from the south col, arrived this spring in Kahtmandu bringing from Europe, his own higher capacity Eurocopter to support yet more rescue efforts this year on Everest.

Three Cheers for a Hero, a Gentleman, and a world class Himalayan Athelete

Simone Morro, an Athlete and a Gentleman with his new Eurocopter 2013
Simone Morro, an Athlete and a Gentleman with his new Eurocopter 2013
Credit: Simone Morro

Simone is presently Stationed under the auspices of Fishtail Air, at Everest Basecamp, on contract with the Nepalese helicopter company he works with in Nepal when he is not climbing.

http://www.fishtailair.com/team-fishtail.php
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 29, 2013 - 02:59am PT
Yes, Simone Moro is one of the good guys (and the other two as well). That's why this whole thing is such a mess. That's also why the three Sherpas taken off the mountain are going to get fried. Meanwhile, it will be really interesting to hear the debates among the Sherpas after the season. There were so many involved, it can't be papered over and I'm sure they were disgruntled about other things.

If everyone is smart, they'll have an extra puja to ask the gods for harmony on the mountain, both sides will apologize and exchange prayer scarves, and things will continue on.

If anyone from the west decides to press charges in the chaotic and corrupt system there, it will get really ugly.

bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
Apr 29, 2013 - 03:01am PT
Jan you should read read the account on Simone's web site, you have it wrong about who was climbing above who

http://www.adventure-journal.com/2013/04/violence-hits-mt-everest-as-sherpas-fight-with-ueli-steck-others/
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 29, 2013 - 03:20am PT
The Sherpa lead climber was above everyone, but Moro, Steck and Griffith were above several Sherpas who were at belay anchors resting and probably above others a pitch or so below (there were 17 Sherpas there altogether). M,S, and G crossed over two lines that were between the lead Sherpa and the belayers and resters - unroped. There have been numerous fatalities on that wall from world class climbers unexpectedly slipping there. I can see the concern.

Beyond that, the Sherpa teams are accustomed to being the first up the mountain. The icefall doctors always go up there first and fix ropes. M,S, and G broke that protocol in their haste to go up and now their expedition is probably prematurely finished. By the crowded standards of the Alps, climbing over people and their ropes is ok. The Sherpas however, come from a different culture and I'm sure, feel their perogatives, responsibilities, and livelihood are threatened by do it yourself crews. They come from a culture of hierarchy, protocol, and face saving, all of which were ignored.

The Sherpas also responded very badly as a group and need to understand that and not just blame the three leaders who were taken off the mountain. Those three can always plead oxygen deprivation and overwork, the same excuse for the bad behavior of so many of their clients over the years.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Apr 29, 2013 - 03:40am PT
hey there say, jan, and all...

just learning and listening to all this, thanks for sharing,
there is always so much more to all these things than meets the eye...


orle

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 29, 2013 - 06:35am PT
Thanks Jan, what a sad episode. I didn't know that Steck/Moro/Griffith were up there attempting a new line but it seems like peak season might not be the best time for that. Didn't Ueli run up Everest in a single-day push last year, just a few days before the Sherpa fixed the route? Hope he's ok..

Simone Moro - the Pilot whom rescued injured Sherpas off of Everest last year, extracted bodies from Pumori via long line, and retrieved the body af a Canadian woman from the south col, arrived this spring in Kahtmandu bringing from Europe, his own higher capacity Eurocopter to support yet more rescue efforts this year on Everest.

Three Cheers for a Hero, a Gentleman, and a world class Himalayan Athelete

I'll second that. Dude's a total legend and has his heart (and head) in the right place. He deserves a f*#king medal and not a beating, obviously. Baffling how medieval this whole act seems.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 29, 2013 - 07:18am PT
We won't begin to get the whole story from the Sherpa side until they all come back to Kathmandu in early June. Then the interesting stories will begin and we'll have a better idea of the personalities and viewpoints of the various people involved.

Meanwhile, Adrian Ballinger has written a very well balanced account of what he was told by both Sherpas and western mountaineers. It turns out some western people also became violent against Sherpas and the two groups were separated by peace making Sherpas and westerners working together.

He concludes, "to me multiple mistakes were made from both sides".........."The professional climbers involved could have and should have chosen somewhere else to acclimatize on this day, instead of solo climbing above the rope fixing team".......

"With that said, the response from some (not all) of the Sherpa was inexplicable and inexcusable. Regardless of the disagreement, or the inappropriate language used by the western climbers, the threats and attempts at violence by the Sherpa involved were wrong".

http://www.explorersweb.com/offsite/?source=http%3A%2F%2Falpenglowexpeditions.com%2Fblog%2Feverest-best-and-worst-0&lang=en
WTF

climber
Apr 29, 2013 - 08:20am PT
Ha rich tw#ts being humped up the hill versus real mountaineers.

Sherpas better realize that the west can make it possible for them to be poor and hungry again when no one wants to go to the highest dump in the world.

Hey Sherpa clean up your mountain. It's a dump and well the big momma has a way of cleaning you from her flanks if she thinks your not respecting her and others.

Real men climb K2

Just saying.

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