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Stewart Green

Fight on Mt. Everest: Climbers Behaving Badly

By May 4, 2013

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On Saturday, April 27, an alternation between about 100 Sherpas and three western climbers--Ueli Steck from Switzerland, Simone Moro from Italy, and English photographer Jonathan Griffith--escalated into a brawl at 24,500-foot Camp 2 on Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The Sherpas threw punches and rocks at the trio, who only escaped with their lives after other climbers, including American Melissa Arnot, stood between the Sherpas and the climbers.

The Sherpas were fixing ropes up to Camp 3 that day for commercial clients and apparently became annoyed when the three climbers passed them and then were climbing above them. The three were climbing between 150 feet and 300 feet to the side of the Sherpas. They said they kept a respectful distance to allow the Sherpas to continue to do their work.

Some Sherpas later said that the climbers knocked ice down on them, which Steck denied. Simone Moro later said, "No Sherpa has come forward to show an injury." Angry words were exchanged between the two groups and the lead Sherpa sent all of his crew of 17 climbers down to Camp 2. Steck, thinking he could appease their anger, fixed the remaining 800 feet of rope up to Camp 3.

Steck, Moro, and Griffith had planned to stay at Camp 3 to continue acclimatizing but after the misunderstanding, they descended back to Camp 2 to work it out. On reaching the camp, they were surrounded by the mob of Sherpa guides who, Moro said, "became instantly aggressive and not only punched and kicked the climbers but threw many rocks as well."

During the past week, more details have come out about this unfortunate and regrettable incident. The local police are also working on the case and say they "will provide all necessary security for the foreigners."

Read more about the fight in a couple interviews with Ueli Steck:
Sherpa fight ends climber's Everest ambitions at swissinfo.ch
Brawl on Everest: Ueli Steck's Story at outsideonline.com

Photograph above: The Everest brawl took place on the South Col route up Mount Everest.

Photograph Alan Kearney/Getty Images


May 13, 2013 at 10:18 am
(1) John says:

The lead-in phrase “climbers behaving badly” seemed to imply that the Western expedition members were “behaving badly”. Aside from this incident exceeding a description of merely “behaving badly” ( overt threats and actions to kill the expedition members), it is clear from reading the accounts by Mr Steck – that this terrible precedent-setting incident involved both Sherpa and Expedition climbers..and has forever affected the relationship between Sherpa and “Western” climbers.

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