So Everest has come to this

2:25 p.m. on April 29, 2013 (EDT)
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A brawl broke out on Mt Everest between 3 European climbers (Ueli Steck, among them) and a group of 17 Nepalese guides who were fixing ropes on the climbing route. Depending on the reports, Steck is refusing to go on the mountain, has an "undisclosed route" in mind, was injured by one of the rocks thrown, has been convinced to continue his climb, and the usual mixed and contradictory bag of media reports. The only thing that seems clear from the half-dozen reports I have read is that it turned into a battle that involved chunks of ice being knocked down by the 3 Europeans onto the Sherpas who were installing the fixed ropes and had asked the Europeans to not climb above them, along with the Sherpas throwing rocks at the Europeans and trading punches. Some reports said that one or more of the Europeans were injured and cut by the thrown rocks. Nepalese police are investigating.

Don't we have enough violence in our cities? I go to the hills to find peace, quiet, and enjoyment. What is the world coming to?

Other articles:

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2013/04/29/20777721.html?cid=rssnewsworld

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/29/mount-everest-brawl_n_3176520.html

http://in.news.yahoo.com/nepalese-police-probes-mt-everest-brawl-060629564.html

http://www.examiner.com/article/mt-everest-brawl-high-altitude-brawl-busts-out-between-climbers-and-sherpas

3:34 p.m. on April 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I read about this, too. Very sad that people have to default so readily to their baser instincts. What ever happened to that "stiff upper lip" attitude?

4:06 p.m. on April 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Personally, I'd say the worst thing to happen on Everest recently is helicopter overuse and the ability to land a helicopter on top.  Might as well stay home.

5:26 p.m. on April 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I read about this earlier today.  Those climbers must have really ticked the sherpas off to get them to throw rocks at them.  Sherpas are typically very peaceful and reserved.  In my opinion, Sherpas are the lifeblood of that mountain and any disrespect to them is blatant disrespect to the mountain.  I am purely speculating here but I am guessing the climbers were being arrogant and acting like they know better than the Sherpas.  Just speculating, because it is hard to get any sort of hard fact from the media these days.  No matter what exactly happened (we will never know) it is a sad deal all around.  

7:11 p.m. on April 29, 2013 (EDT)
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that is pretty pathetic.

5:46 a.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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I wanna see it in Imax3D.

9:31 a.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Hillary must be spinning in his grave, as well as Tilman, and so many others who figuratively and literally stood on the shoulders of the local people to climb in the Himalaya.

11:29 a.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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One account I read made it sound like the climbers were outnumbered by the Sherpas by ten to one or so.  Not exactly a fair fight.  The report I read made it sound like it started because the climbers above the Sherpas kicked ice down on them.  Sounds more like an excuse to quit for the day and go sit in the tent.

5:37 p.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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6:42 p.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Everest, a Himalayan circus. Thanks for posting, Bill. Trysts on Everest go back almost 50 years, but fist fights, I think are relatively new. And scores of years ago, there were other issues with explorers. When Robert Falcon Scott was dying at the South Pole , his wife was having an affair with Nansen. Bonatti being abandoned on K2, the late Maurice Herzog losing all his digits on Annapurna...it all makes for interesting stories.

11:47 p.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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The Rock and Ice piece is a great read. 

12:22 a.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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With all of the predicaments we humans cause ourselves and each other, I take solace in the fact that Everest will still be here long after we have met our end. It might even be a few inches taller.

5:47 a.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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North1 said:

With all of the predicaments we humans cause ourselves and each other, I take solace in the fact that Everest will still be here long after we have met our end. It might even be a few inches taller.

Naw, Everest is doomed.  It is soon to be leveled and paved over so they can have enough room for the RV camp ground.

Ed

10:25 a.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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i would have been on the sidelines because at 23,000 feet, i would probably be gasping for air, not yelling or throwing rocks. 

does anyone's regular day hiking or overngiht activity ever feature this kind of drama? not mine. 

11:44 a.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Its funny that some articles on this event try to paint all western people climbing Everest with the anti-colonialist brush and then to describe Sherpa people like some kind of noble savage from a James Fenimore Cooper book.

Heck, if I had the coin I'd still climb Everest, sideshow or not.  Who (besides climbers) has ever heard of Shishapangma?

Dissing Everest, I think, is a classic example of cognitive dissonance;  people who can't go there but secretly wish they could, make themselves feel better by dismissing it as beneath them.  That's my Psych 101 diagnosis ;)

6:19 p.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Sage, while Everest may still be a goal, much of the issue concerns the commercialization and crowds of the experience. You've probably read Tilman's books. In those days, comparatively little was known about the mountains. The glaciers weren't strewn with the waste of thousands of climbers. If your goal is to reach the summit of the highest mountain on earth, then nothing other than Everest will satisfy that. We all have different "Everests" in our outdoor experiences. Many people enjoy the solitude, the quiet as much as the climbing. Whatever the our personal Everest is, the challenge of ourselves is the goal.

"Have we vanquished an enemy...none but ourselves."

8:02 p.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Any fool with enough money can 'Conquer Everest' these days.. Sad........

10:17 p.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

..Dissing Everest, I think, is a classic example of cognitive dissonance;  people who can't go there but secretly wish they could, make themselves feel better by dismissing it as beneath them.  That's my Psych 101 diagnosis ;)

Perhaps that is true for some.  On the other hand I think many who climb there are doing it more for their tick list than for the experience per se – let me see, got my MBA (check) got my fancy job and house on the hill (check) got my trophy (second) wife and 2.3 children (check) bagged Everest (check)...  I guess I am not the bucket list kind of guy.

I definitely don't have the coin for that trip.  But likewise I would rather not climb the relatively affordable West Buttress (tourist route) of Denali, nowadays, given the circus like conditions that also exist there.  Fortunately I was able to climb on Denali several times, decades ago, when it was a lot less crowded.  I have not done much high climbing, but the most of those projects were to less frequented venues.  Crowds and the outdoors don't mix well for me.  As beautiful as Yosemite is, I don't care much for the main valley, due to the congestion, and have only visited it twice regardless I have lived most of my life just hours away.  I would much rather take in the sights of upper Tuolumne Meadows and other less crowded parts of the park and Sierra.

1:19 a.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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I agree Ed. Certainly money can get a well fitted client to the summit of Everest. That is not unlike the guides in the Alps, who have, for a century or more, sometimes pulled their clients to the top of the Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc. Physical endurance and strength play a role. I don't climb any more, at least no high angle stuff. But Everest never beckoned me. Patagonia, Huascaran, mountains in Alaska and Canada with routes no one had done, and mountains known only by numbers. That was what attracted me. HW Tilman was lost sailing to Antarctica to climb peaks that hadn't even been mapped. It is all a personal journey. For some, it is one check on their list. For me, I asked myself if I had climbed well, had I worked as part of the team, did I have fun, was the route enjoyable?

4:49 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

Any fool with enough money can 'Conquer Everest' these days.. Sad........

Agreed, I think this is more of a challenge personally:

I have seen many videos about this mountain. The bottleneck looks really interesting:

7:03 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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You would think teams of climbers would have better judgement when climbing near other groups....

8:08 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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8:20 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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denis daly said:

You would think teams of climbers would have better judgement when climbing near other groups....

 Maybe it is a mix of time, money, weather windows and what so called modern man has become. That instant grat thing.

Yeah Rick i don't think much on conquer...... More or less it's if the mts let you..... Get too greedy and you will find bones bleaching under the sun..

11:17 a.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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I like Steck's story. I think he sounds the most believable.

11:42 a.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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I won't be buying Outside mag again.  Pretty pathetic one-sided journalism in my opinion.  "We were not wrong or right, and the Sherpas were not wrong or right" says Steck.  Dozens of Sherpas were ready to kill you and your team and you say nobody was in the wrong!!  Come on..........  There is much more to this story than anyone is saying.  Steck is trying to save face for his endorsements and his commercial enterprise.  If there was a "no climbing" agreement while the Sherpas were setting ropes then Steck and his team should have respected that.  " I mean, we pay a lot of money to be there, so why should I not be allowed to climb?" says Steck.  Yes sir......  Your $$ does entitle you to do whatever you please.  

1:01 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Simone Moro corroborates Steck's story in Nat Geo.  Will you blackball National Geographic too? 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130502-mount-everest-fight-simone-moro-interview-sherpas/

I think that, since Moro and Steck made the Sherpas look weak by out-climbing them and finishing their work for them and that really roughed up the Sherpa's pride.  No one can climb the entire Tibetan face when sherpas are setting ropes for clients?  Not even someone climbing alpine style who doesn't need their ropes?  I say bull.

Sounds like the Swiss Machine was just too much for the Sherpas.  They couldn't stomach someone who didn't need their help.  After all, if Steck doesn't need their ropes who else might not need their ropes, no job security.   

Moro and Steck aren't entitled westerners looking down on little brown people, they are pros, these are the kind of guys we want climbing Everest.  They have built schools for Sherpas and are by no means noobs.

It wasn't a brawl, it sounds, more like attempted murder.

2:18 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Good journalism presents both sides of the story.  Nat Geo apparently forgot that fundamental ideal as well.  There are always 2 sides to every story.  

Of course Moro corroborates Steck's story.  They are partners.  

You are correct, it was attempted murder by a masked mob of Sherpas.   That we do know.  Violence by the Sherpas is definitely wrong, however, I seriously doubt they retaliated just because their pride was hurt by a team of some of the best and most accomplished climbers in the world.  

I don't recall ever reading anything about Steck building schools for anyone.  Doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  I just have never read anything about that over the last decade.  

5:41 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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6:13 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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I read that article a couple days ago.  It is a personal blog and not a formal statement or interview of any of the Sherpas involved.  The person writing the blog had enough sense to understand there are two sides to every story and clearly stated that.  The same thing can not be said for Nat Geo and Outside.  Funny how a blogger has more reporting dignity on this matter than those two publications put together.  

7:43 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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The agreement between the climbers and the sherpas:

Everest-agreement.jpg

(Which I thought some would find interesting.)

8:09 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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You can take away whatever you wish from these accounts, but it is all about how the big picture differs from our individual world views

Two guys are riding on an elephant.  A passerby remarks to his friends, "Hey, look at those two a-holes on the elephant!"  With a mystified look on their faces, the two guys dismount, and walk around to the elephant's back side to see this for themselves.  So the question beckons: Were there two a-holes on the elephant?  And should the two riders debate the facts as they see them?  Even if an understanding emerges it will not be agreeable. So often is the case.

FromSagetoSnow said:

..Moro and Steck aren't entitled westerners looking down on little brown people, they are pros, these are the kind of guys we want climbing Everest...

Again for emphasis:

.. these are the kind of guys we want climbing Everest...

Sounds like somebody has a dog in this race...

Actually no, I do not want to share a mountain anymore so with the likes of Steck than sharing the freeway with Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kyle Busch, while they have at it to see who gets there first.  I don't think competitive attitudes are conducive to safe driving or climbing.  But that is beside the point.

I have been on enough high angle mountaineering adventures to realize adrenaline, fatigue and fear can cause reasonable people to do the unreasonable.  It is also my observation when outrageous incidents do occur, rarely is the reality a simple matter of black and white, and often events are circumstantial to a wider context than the stage outsiders are privy to.  Without pointing fingers - mostly because I don't know squat, I wasn't there - I think one can safely say the sherpas need to maintain better public relations, else they could end up spoiling this gig they have mostly to themselves; and visitors to the mountain need to respect the policies and customs of the locals, else risk the consequences that occur when you piss on the tribal elders of such societies.  Yea, I can say that without backing what he said or she said.

It is crap like this why most old school mountaineers were reticent to share with flatlanders the interpersonal drama that often transpires Up There.  This is an exceptionally poor example of conflict resolution, no matter how you look at it.  We are left none the wiser, regarding what THE real facts of this story are, because they are colored by the various motives and agendas of the individuals and parties involved.  My take away is there was this mountain with a-holes on it, and that the people present don't like a-holes on the mountain. That is indisputable.

Ed

8:59 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Very well stated Ed. 

10:48 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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i read the various articles.  the risks associated with high altitude climbing don't interest me, but i have done a lot of winter hiking in adverse conditions.   in circumstances where the snow conditions, wind, and cold are life-threatening if you don't know what you're doing...and sometimes, even when you do.

what I think this situation underscores is the vital need for teamwork and communication when the lives of everyone out there depend on it.  All involved deserve some of the blame for  miscommunication and lack of coordination - in my view.  When i'm out with friends in bad conditions, we discuss turnaround times/distances at the outset and communicate constantly to take everyone's pulse - are conditions so bad we should turn around? anyone getting cold? does your teammate's face look like a frostbite risk? don't get me wrong, it does not always go smoothly, and i have had friends disrespect the turnaround times or the weather.  Fortunately, none of them have had to pay for it with anything more than a little frost-nip. 

-On the plus side, it sounds like several expedition companies coordinated the rope-fixing among their Sherpa teams and agreed they would not climb while until the Sherpas had completed their work.  Good communication and teamwork. 

-Professional climbers (Steck & partners) apparently proceeded oblivious to the understanding reached by the commercial expeditions and climbed among the Sherpas, the initial tinder for this flare-up.  No bad intentions, but there is a little bit of hubris among climbers with their skill and experience.  'we can climb more safely, faster, bypass this, fix ropes more quickly...." all of which is plain from Steck's version of this.   

-acts and strong words that are commonplace and mostly meaningless for Westerners were fighting words for the Sherpas, plus it occurred at high altitude, which was the flash point that blew this up.  miscommunication and a little cussing and disrespect shouldn't provoke violence at this level - this has the feel of urban gang violence, overreaction to being slighted for something that could have been dealt with more reasonably.  I agree with Ed that climbers should respect the local customs, but let's face it, the Sherpas up there aren't exactly living the customary life.  They make a small fortune from the annual climbing.  They welcome privileged Westerners into their sacred place to make that happen - for a huge fee.  Consequently, i think Western climbers should try to live within the local culture, but the Sherpa need to be a little more tolerant of the shortcomings of their Western guests. 

        

8:14 p.m. on May 23, 2013 (EDT)
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There is a decent article about Everest in the June issue of National Geographic.  It has always been a dream (more like a fantasy) of mine to maybe one day get to Everest.  After reading the article and seeing the pictures in the NG article I no longer have any desire to go over there.  

1:16 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Everest ?????

Who wants to go to a place where there is hundreds of littering, stinking, money buying a boasting point group of narcissistic impatient want ot prove better than anyone in the life want to be's ?  Anyone ?

1:32 p.m. on June 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Callahan said:

Who wants to go to a place where there is hundreds of littering, stinking, money buying a boasting point group of narcissistic impatient want ot prove better than anyone in the life want to be's ? 

 Hmmm.... didn't realize the subject here was politicians of all countries and all party lines.

12:42 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Now THAT's funny... and as far as paving Everest (to build that RV campground) goes, I heard it was going to be a Walmart SuperCenter.

4:22 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I think Everest gets a bad rap on these things sometimes. I read some of the blogs of the guys up there at the time and who witnessed what happened. I am also a bit partial to the sherpas and their work too. (HERE) Just because what Callahan says may be true of so many, it can still be a true and pure dream of people as well. Is it fair to say that becaus some ... alright... many have exploited it, I become a cliche if I want to go there too? Is it boasting and narcissistic to want to go, or is it elitist to say you are above all that and will not go because its for tourists? I am not calling anyone any of these things. But it seems taking a position at all can become far less real and far more partisan than it ever needs to be. (Off soapbox).

12:13 p.m. on June 12, 2013 (EDT)
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OH.. I might add that incidents like this are not very rare. Lincoln Hall (RIP) nearly died up high and was found alive, but contended he was pretty sure the sherpas who took him down had beat him with an ice axe. Read about that thrilling climb here. And there is Chronical of the sort of underworld Everest here.

1:35 p.m. on June 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for the links.  I'll copy them and take the article and the Amazon reviews out on my next trip.  I always love reading about guys out in "nature" dealing with cold, wind, hard times, stubbornness, futility, hubris, frostbite and sudden death.  They make my trips seem easy no matter what kind of crap I encounter.

3:10 p.m. on June 12, 2013 (EDT)
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That lincoln hall was an amazing book. While I was at Everesst last year he ended up dying back home in Ausie of mesothelioma. WOW....high altitude climber with lungs like that .... whether he knew it or not!

8:26 p.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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I'll take this opportunity to plug "Into the Silence" by Wade Davis, came out a couple of years ago. In case anybody here (hi Tipi!) hasn't read it yet.

It's the story of Mallory and the first expeditions, put into their Great War context.

Wade Davis is an anthropologist who made his name working with Amazonian tribes and other aboriginal cultures. His description of Himalayan culture at 'first contact' is enough to make this worth reading.

Then there's the amazing feats of cartography: these fellows walked into the blank spaces on the map and had to make their own before they could do anything else.

And that's all besides the great Mallory drama. Fantastic book.

December 18, 2014
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