Brawl At The Top Of The World: Everest Climbers Attacked By Sherpas
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The tallest summit on Earth, Mount Everest, is on the bucket list of many professional and amateur climbers. The dedication and training required for this feat can range from swimming, running and biking to weight lifting and free climbing. After news reports out of the Himalayas this weekend, potential Everest climbers may now want to add mixed martial arts to their training repertoire.
While the reports coming off the mountain are still vague at best, what is known is that three climbers were involved in what officials are calling a ℠thrashing.´ Ueli Steck of Switzerland and Simone Moro of Italy were two of the climbers at the 24,500 foot mark when the altercation occurred.
As far as what can be pieced together at this point, the Sherpa guides who assist climbers with their trek allegedly claim that they had called for a halt to climbing so that ropes could be put in place across an ice face. Steck and Moro deny that the orders were sent up and continued their climb toward Camp 3, apparently unleashing an ice fall that hit the Sherpas laying the ropes below.
In an interview with BBC, Steck claimed that his three-man team was nearing Camp 3 when the conflict occurred. The team continued on to the upper camp. Issue arose, however, when they chose to descend to Camp 2 to — as Steck put it — “finish the discussion.” At the lower camp, the three climbers were met by a group of over 100 angry Sherpas who began to beat them and throw rocks at them. In addition to the beating, the three climbers claim that their lives were in danger had they not left the lower camp. In fact, Moro had a pocketknife thrown at him but, as Steck stated, “luckily [it] just hit the belt of his backpack.” Steck was clear in stating all three climbers were able to escape with no serious injuries.
In addressing the conflict, Steck alluded to it having been a symptom of a long-term problem of “cultures.” He refused to elaborate further.
The former president of the Nepal Mountaineers Association Ang Tshering Sherpa told BBC that the climbing leaders of various teams at the base camp were able to broker a peace deal on Sunday. “Exact details are not very clear, but the two sides clearly had a misunderstanding,” Ang stated.
“If the climbers are thrashed during their journey, it would not give positive message to the country. It would be disrepute to our country´s security and managerial system.”
According to the Chief District Officer of Solukhumbu Sitaram Karki, “It is out of our reach due to the distance. We have received the news that the foreigners were thrashed and that we will deploy our team immediately to investigate the case.” He followed up with a commitment to arrest the guilty and revitalize security efforts for foreign climbers.
Steck´s Italian counterpart Moro chalked the whole incident up to a case of injured pride among the Sherpas. “Getting hit by chunks of ice is a very natural occurrence” on an ice face, he stated. “As it stands, no Sherpa has come forward to show any injury.”
Moro continued, “The climbers believe that the lead Sherpa felt that his pride had been damaged as the climbers were moving unroped and much faster.”
It was upon returning to their tents at the lower camp, according to Moro, that a mob of guides had gathered with the intent of attacking the three climbers.
“[The guides] became instantly aggressive and not only punched and kicked the climbers, but threw many rocks as well,” he continued.
For now, the climbers involved in the altercation have returned to base camp and are considering abandoning their climb altogether if their future security cannot be guaranteed.