/ NEWS: Everest Update: A Letter From Jon Griffith

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UKC News - on 30 Apr 2013
Jon Griffith on the front cover of The Sun, 4 kbThe Simone Moro, Ueli Steck and Jon Griffith Everest story is in all the national papers. It's big news. Jon Griffith's facebook profile photo is on the front page of The Sun.

We have been back in contact with Jon, who is still at Everest Base Camp, and Jon told us that he has been following the forums closely and thanked the UKC community for the balanced response to their initial report. He has now written a 'letter to UKC', here it is:

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=68025

biscuit - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

A well worded response Jon, thanks.

Such a shame for everyone involved on all sides.

All the best for the future.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to biscuit:

+ 1

Gregor
Damo on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Thanks Jon.
dutybooty - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News: Seemed a well thought out email.
chiragshah5001 - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

How long until Danny Boyle asks Jon for the film rights on this?
Jus - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Just don't look at the reader comments on the The Sun website!
maresia - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Jus:

I dread to think! Off there right now to judge the ill-informed masses that thought their opinion was worth sharing with the world.
Jus - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to maresia:

It's something else I tell ya!
maresia - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Jus:

Oh dear... I really shouldn't have looked.
GrendeI on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Jus: *sigh*
Doug on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to maresia: haven't looked at the Sun's comments, those on the Guardian's site were bad enough :-(
Cadairmanuk - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Jus:

Just looked at the reply's on the Sun! Stunned, stupid comments from the ill informed.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Doug: "Trying to start summit?" "I'm gonna Himalaya you out"

The Sun is a rag and a comic, embarrassing to put those on the front cover...Viz maybe, but the UKs best selling paper?

<shakes head in despair>
Mr. K - on 30 Apr 2013
Well written Jon, glad you guys are safe up there.
David Barratt - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News: Sounds like a verty honest response. I hope the team can make a go of it next year.
Damo on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

A letter from Chad Kellog. Scary stuff.

"Simone tried to get out of the tent on his knees when he was beaten and forced back inside. Awhile later Melissa asked Simone to get back on his knees outside the tent and ask for forgiveness again. She had been assured by the instigaters that he would not be hurt. So Simone got on his knees to ask for forgiveness and was kicked under the chin, someone tried to stab him with a pen knife, but fortunately the knife hit him in the padded belt of his backpack."

http://www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/kellogg7/

Epsilon - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

"As a final comment. A very influential character (sorry no names right now) has asked the Ministry of Tourism to have written on every permit that climbers are not allowed to climb before the fixing team."

I'd bet the unnamed person is Russell Brice or some other non-climber boss of a big commercial team.
Blue Straggler - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Damo:

Good grief.

"Marty Schmidt recalled when I talked with him at Camp 2 that he saw a man getting ready to bring a large rock down on Simone's head to kill him. "

Sounds like Melissa Arnott saved their lives initially, with a very bold interventions.
EeeByGum - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Epsilon:

> I'd bet the unnamed person is Russell Brice or some other non-climber boss of a big commercial team.

Maybe naming someone on a whim is as bad as the "unnamed" person making a statement that may not be true in the first place?
MG - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Damo: That makes it even more confusing as it talks about all sorts of goings on at camp 2 but Jon's letter above states that they daren't even approach camp 2. Am I missing something?
The Ex-Engineer - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Damo: An excellent blog entry that potentially explains more of the immediate background as to why some of the Sherpa fixing team were so ill-disposed to Western climbers at the time of the incident.
Morgan Woods - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

interesting issue about lack of respect shown by western clients to Sherpas....they obviously climb much better than the clients, are well paid by Nepali standards and have a job with a fair bit of risk but the status that goes with it...would they really rather be somewhere else?
Blue Straggler - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to MG:

Remember Jon and Simone were hiding behind a glacier for some of those goings-on. Also Jon may not remember everything clearly and perhaps chose not to report some of the stuff about which he has a blurred recollection, until he can converse with other witnesses and get the full picture clear in his own head.
Dino Dave - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to MG: And that makes it even more confusing! On the forum to the original post - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=547936 - Jack Geldard stated that the photo of the trio at camp 2 used in the aritcle was taken during the trio's retreat... "Jon also included the photograph of the three climbers at camp 2 after the incident, but before they 'legged it' back to basecamp". (See post time 12:15 Mon) So this suggests that they did momentarily return to camp 2. All very confusing!

Still, a very worrying account forwarded by Damo!
Morgan Woods - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Damo) That makes it even more confusing as it talks about all sorts of goings on at camp 2 but Jon's letter above states that they daren't even approach camp 2. Am I missing something?

i thought that as well......was it just Simone in the Camp 2 kitchen then? And if this is the case:

"understand that any anonymous eyewitness reports from Camp 2 are ludicrous"

then what about accounts that aren't anonymous?

Anyhow it's a pretty sad end to what should have been the trip of a lifetime.
remus - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Morgan Woods: That seems like a strange point to make. Just because someone is relatively well off it doesn't mean it's excusable to be disrespectful to them in the course of their job.

Surely the aim is to be as polite and courteous as possible, not be rude and arrogant then try and pay them off.
Blue Straggler - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Morgan Woods:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> "understand that any anonymous eyewitness reports from Camp 2 are ludicrous"
>
This means "reports purporting to be eyewitness reports of what went on on the actual face as seen from Camp 2" - Jon's further context about distances etc does clarify this.

Eyewitness reports from people at Camp 2 regarding what went on at Camp 2, are not declared to be ludicrous.....yet.
Bellie - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to MG: They were smuggled into/back into camp 2... as opposed to walking through camp 2 as stated in the anonymous account.

Smuggled out and off via the glacier, again as opposed to walking off and through the camp to head down to base camp.
Blue Straggler - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Hang on...my apologies. I now join the ranks of the bewildered.

Jon: "The fact that this anonymous source said we then walked back through Camp is proof of the lies as there was no chance we walked back through Camp. We were shitting ourselves, the idea of walking through Camp was suicidal. We tracked straight over towards Nuptse and headed down an unbelievably crevassed glacier with no tracks and no ropes. At times we were crawling. As dangerous as this was it actually seemed like a haven of safety compared to Camp 2"

Now...which Camp is he talking about when just calling it "Camp" rather than "Camp 2"? He implies that they had been at Camp 2 otherwise how could he compare anything to it? I am sure all will be clarified when people are feeling more comfortable and settled. Jon must still be pretty rattled so I imagine his letter was slightly rushed.
Blue Straggler - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Bellie:
> (In reply to MG) They were smuggled into/back into camp 2

Ah yes, thanks that helps
adnix - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Morgan Woods:

Who cares about third hand speculation? Facts like big rock, kicking and a knife are scary enough.

Seems like money and business have taken control over Everest. Independent alpine groups seem not welcome. If you pay all fix rope fees and such your welcome and if not they scare the shit out of out. True Sicily Mob style.
Morgan Woods - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to remus:
> (In reply to Morgan Woods) That seems like a strange point to make. Just because someone is relatively well off it doesn't mean it's excusable to be disrespectful to them in the course of their job.
>
> Surely the aim is to be as polite and courteous as possible, not be rude and arrogant then try and pay them off.

I agree i don't think there is any excuse for bad behaviour shown by westerners if that is the issue, however would have thought the Sherpas working on the mountain would have the fortitude to deal with it for the reasons stated. Would be good to know more about this lack of respect and how it is manifested.
Morgan Woods - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to adnix:
> (In reply to Morgan Woods)
>
> Who cares about third hand speculation? Facts like big rock, kicking and a knife are scary enough.
>
> Seems like money and business have taken control over Everest. Independent alpine groups seem not welcome. If you pay all fix rope fees and such your welcome and if not they scare the shit out of out. True Sicily Mob style.

I would hope that is not the case. Seems to be quite a tangled web if a western exped leader is actively trying to discourage alpine-style ascents if it potentially interferes with rope fixing.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Morgan Woods: Having spent large parts of my life travelling , and months in Nepal...it has often occurred to me that I met many very warm, kind and humble people. Yet scratch the surface and sometimes these communities soon unravel when crossed and it's kangaroo court justice time.

Babika - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:
Thank you for the open letter Jon.

I don't know you but I feel very priveleged that you have chosen to share your thoughts with the wider UKC community.

Anything in a media spotlight is ghastly and I really feel for you guys.

Stay cool, you haven't done anything wrong.
Neil Rankin - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News:

What a bizarre story. I can't help but feel that there must be more to it because I have trouble believing that the mob was started by one Sherpa's injured pride.
sebastien - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Neil Rankin:

Ueli Steck on swissinfo.ch. Well you need to look for it your-self as the machine tells me the adress is too long a word...
Mike Stretford - on 30 Apr 2013
sebastien - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to sebastien: In an interview before the incident:

swissinfo.ch: You are a purist climber, who is known for doing remote and difficult routes. How do you feel about the luxurious and commercial life at Everest Base Camp?
U.S.: There are people who condemn commercial expeditions as well as climbing Everest with supplementary oxygen but if you come here, you have to accept it. Commercial expeditions are not my thing but they also bring a lot of money to Nepal, which is a poor country. If you want an adventure, donít come to Everest. There are so many other interesting mountains around. Here on Everest, you may be able to decide whether to use supplementary oxygen or not, but not using the fixed ropes is not really an option.

swissinfo.ch: Will you be using the ropes that were set in place by the Sherpas?
U.S.: Whatís the point in climbing next to the fixed ropes and not using them? It is like driving a car without wearing your seatbelt. It would be stupid, just like not looking at the weather forecast. I probably wonít use my ascending device but I if I think itís necessary, Iíll certainly clip in for safety.


Jon Griffith about to be on Radio 5Live
Ben Briggs - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News: what ever happened up there this statement from Ueli sums it up for me- There was no reason to try and kill three people Ė never anywhere in life or anywhere on the mountain.
jandik - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News: It is a little bit confusing to read the Jons article. I've got a e-mail from Ang Tsering Sherpa wit the photo of the common agreement berween climbers and sherpas about the incident, signed also by Jon Griffith, see here:http://bit.ly/ZQr0Ei
There is written:

On 27th April 2013, above Everest Base Camp at Camp 2 and Camp 3 an argument arose between foreign climbers and Nepali climbers and the situation was discussed on 29th April 2013 at a meeting. Both the parties have realized their errors and apologized to each other in front of those present in the meeting. Furthermore, both parties agreed to help each other in the future to make successful each other's goal. It has also been decided that this issue will not be raised again.

All those present agreed and committed that such activates must never be repeated by anyone in mountaineering in the tourism sector. If any party is dissatisfied with the actions of another party, they commit not to go into conflict or use violence against the other party instead they commit to report the actions to the government representatives or relevant government recognized associations present at the base camps, to come to an amicable solution between the parties.
Jim Hamilton - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to jandik:

the link above quotes Steck saying the agreement was "sweet talk"
jandik - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton: OK, it might be, but why is the Jon' signature on it?
galpinos - on 30 Apr 2013
adnix - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to galpinos:

Arnette's version leaves out some things. It's evident there was verbal fight there but does this really justify a physical fight, too? He seems to say so.

There clearly was a conflict between two worlds there. What the three climbers did was not normal procedure but I don't think such actions would justify throwing rocks or hitting with a pen knife.

Alpine climbing seems to be banned during the main season. The only way for true alpine climbing on the regular route is above the fixing them. Of course, you can climb post monsoon, too. During the peak season everybody should walk the line... sad indeed.
Milesy - on 30 Apr 2013
I am just finished reading Hornbein's "The West Ridge" again for about the dozenth time in a decade. Where did it all go wrong!
jon on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to adnix:

> Alpine climbing seems to be banned during the main season. The only way for true alpine climbing on the regular route is above the fixing them.

Well as their tent was already at Camp 3, they obviously had started before the fixing team, by a day or so.
swiss gneiss - on 01 May 2013
There is an agreement signed now between Ueli and friends as well as some of the involved sherpas. Today published by "Blick" website (switzerlands "The Sun") http://www.blick.ch/news/ausland/bergsteiger-und-sherpas-schliessen-friedensvertrag-id2288709.html

Seems kind of a step towards an appeasement. but still: Uelis trip seems over for now...
Kemics - on 01 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

I cant imagine much more terrifying than having a mob trying to stab you and beat you to death with rocks.

I also find it hard to believe that shaking hands and agreeing to play nice is going to help bridge the void.
BorisVBlade - on 01 May 2013
In reply to sebastien: Bear Grylls decided to comment on the swissinfo interview...


Bear Grylls, United Kingdom
01.05.2013
Ridiculous news. 3 Ignorant climbers to get media attention by insulting the Sherpa fellows. I climbed with them on 1998 and I know who the sherpas are. Climbing without Sherpa through rich sponsor to create record doesn't mean you can do what ever in someone else homeland. So disrespectful and sad in mountain climbing community.
fultonville - on 01 May 2013
I think Ueli Steck's quote here sums it up

>If you want an adventure, donít come to Everest. There are so many other interesting mountains around.<

Unfortunately it seems Everest has become a 21st century carnival ride covered with rich folk paying for the 'right' to summit in order to make their lives more interesting. Obviously this is the new industry in the region and I wonder what will happen to those left behind once the fad of summiting wanes.
tony on 01 May 2013
In reply to BorisVBlade:

Describing these three as ignorant might come back to bite him on the bum.
Milesy - on 01 May 2013
In reply to BorisVBlade:

Sounds nothing like Bear Grylls. Terrible language. I call fake.
bombshell - on 01 May 2013
In reply to BorisVBlade: Where is this comment?
Colestyron - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Milesy:

When you say 'fake' do you mean fake like when the Master of Movement himself climbed on 'lead' with a top rope?

See here:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=1052

Just curious.
Milesy - on 01 May 2013
No I am saying the english language used in the comment is very poor, and nothing like you would see from Bear who is pretty well educated. It is obviously not Bear as anyone can comment on the article.

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Sherpa_fight_ends_climber_s_Everest_ambitions_.html?cid=3567056...
nikkormat on 01 May 2013
In reply to BorisVBlade:

I'm with Milesy on the "Bear Grylls" quote. It doesn't look like the writing of a native English speaker to me.
MHutch - on 01 May 2013
In reply to BorisVBlade:
> (In reply to sebastien) Bear Grylls decided to comment on the swissinfo interview...
>
>
> Bear Grylls, United Kingdom
> 01.05.2013
> Ridiculous news. 3 Ignorant climbers to get media attention by insulting the Sherpa fellows. I climbed with them on 1998 and I know who the sherpas are. Climbing without Sherpa through rich sponsor to create record doesn't mean you can do what ever in someone else homeland. So disrespectful and sad in mountain climbing community.

Source? Sounds completely fake.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Kemics - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Colestyron:

ahhh I forgot how ridiculous that video is. Classic.
John Doe-Smith - on 01 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Glad the three Western climbers are safe. Jon's photography is amazing and inspirational, and it's sad we won't get to see as much as we would've thanks to the expedition ending. I've never read anything negative about the character of Ueli Steck, not that it could possibly matter, attempted murder couldn't have been called for no matter what.

Assuming it's true (and it isn't being denied), the behavior those sherpas is beneath contempt. There was a claim that a sherpa was injured, but evidently neither this person nor their injuries ever showed up. The fact that they evidently needed to fluff their claim by lying about someone being injured shows that even they didn't believe they were justified as it was.


And the comments on the Daily Mail ("Wool Stick") article seem even worse than the Sun article. I just can't get over how freely presumptuous, judgemental and condemnatory some people are about people and things they know nothing of.
Milesy - on 01 May 2013
The Daily Mail readership will be shaking their fists in the air at something else by end of the week, and himex will be back to their routine on the hill.
Timmd on 01 May 2013
In reply to fultonville:
> I think Ueli Steck's quote here sums it up
>
> >If you want an adventure, donít come to Everest. There are so many other interesting mountains around.<
>
> Unfortunately it seems Everest has become a 21st century carnival ride covered with rich folk paying for the 'right' to summit in order to make their lives more interesting. Obviously this is the new industry in the region and I wonder what will happen to those left behind once the fad of summiting wanes.

If it's a fad it's a pretty long one?
Luca Signorelli - on 01 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Simone Moro published this on Montagna.tv yesterday. BTW, he's staying in Nepal

http://www.montagna.tv/cms/?p=47071

Not sure about what happened (I wasn't there), but as someone whose family comes from a small, closed mountain community, and who lived for years into another small mountain community, I think I can recognize some of the mechanisms behind this incident. You may have the best intentions of the world, but if you're not local, you're not local. And "not locals" in the end are the same thing as enemies.
Damo on 01 May 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> ... as someone whose family comes from a small, closed mountain community, and who lived for years into another small mountain community, I think I can recognize some of the mechanisms behind this incident. You may have the best intentions of the world, but if you're not local, you're not local. And "not locals" in the end are the same thing as enemies.

I'll assume that's just a description and not a justification, Luca?
Dan Arkle - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Here is a google translate of that link.

Best wishes to you Jon.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal - "You probably have not beaten us, but Westerners. The hotheads are everywhere. I received so much from these people, even with a knife I can hate them and these days here is a continuous procession of those who come to apologize. " These reflections in the cold by Simone Moro, was involved in recent days in an incredible brawl occurred at high fields the normal route to Everest. The mountaineering expedition is closed, Ueli Steck and Jon Griffith have already flown away, but the Italian mountaineer remains in Nepal to work as a helicopter rescue pilot with his helicopter that brought specially in Kathmandu to take relief in the Himalayas. Here is why.

Simone what is the situation this morning?
Ueli and Jon have gone away from the base camp of Everest. He came to pick them Folini Maurizio, who has just arrived to replace the other driver and took the first flight. I'll stay here one more day to pack up things and talking to some people.

How was the "armistice"?
In theory we should have done as you would in any other country of the world: denounce the attackers and let them pay the price for what they did. There is no question even of what has happened in the mountains, but according to us it was like the straw that broke the camel's back, because there was no reason to provoke him. Even compared to the estimated block of ice that we would fall and it would hurt a Sherpa: Sherpa yesterday that same declared he injured himself slipping while he was jumarando and beat the nose on the ice. From a verbal altercation, among other things not so switched on, it came out of everything. They understood that the news would have been around the world and it was a very serious thing, because nothing could justify the punitive expedition that have set up in Field 2, telling who knows what other Sherpas, probably triggering a logic of pack. Personally I decided to go in their tents at base camp, to shake hands and tell them that they had made a bullshit. And then I remade it in a public meeting. The problems in relations between Western and Sherpa require a long process to be resolved. I wanted to give a strong example: we were not required to do so, but did not want to add rancor rancor, give rise to new resentment. This for me is an initial gesture, but now that you have to work to change the situation.

So what do you think has caused what has happened?
Probably some Sherpas have realized that this business is great and would like to keep it all to themselves. People like me and Ueli that scale without Sherpas fixed rope and does not make them happy. In addition, when we were at camp 3, we also offered to help them, we have 260 meters of fixed ropes, so when we got down they probably would not have beaten us, but Westerners. Then we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because we had permission to climb the west face of Lhotse and permission to put them up again while the fixed ropes.

When was this tension between Western and Sherpa?
This tense situation has always been there. This mountain mountaineering was born 60 years ago, but the relationship between Western and Nepalese today is completely different from what it was then. There are people who invest millions of dollars to come here, I say millions. There are shipments that have established a good relationship with the Sherpas and others who treat them a bit 'as pack animals, or who treat them well, but also that they are not very inclined to thank them properly, to share successes. Then maybe some Sherpas, who earn too much to this work, they began to think it is not fair to them. She's lost a little 'clarity in understanding that Westerners without the Sherpas do not scale this mountain, or at least most of them, while the Sherpas have forgotten that without the Westerners here do not have their job.

How was it to meet those sherpa meeting?
They were different people, they were stupefied, his eyes watery, and no longer had these veins buttons blood. It may sound arrogant, but, believe me, I did not have any problem to shake their hands. We all want peace,'re waving peace flags from the balconies, but then it is another thing.

Were you afraid to camp 2?
Of course, anything more was going to die. They'd also said they would made out, and we had also come down from camp 2 to camp 1 along a new path because we were afraid to meet other Sherpas who could throw ourselves upon the stones. However, I know that here there are lots of good people, the vast majority are 4 Sherpas who stirred up the whole thing, I do not know what could have told the others to aizzarli so. These days here is a continuous procession of people who come to apologize.

Were you ever got in a fight in your life?
Never.

Did you ever think of 6500-7000 meters to finish us off?
Absolutely not. When we saw them coming against us, we immediately started to apologize, then when we saw Ueli who was bleeding from the mouth we tried to calm them down, we never responded. We were kneeling to take punches and kicks.

What you said Denis Urubko?
Denis is not here, because after he made acclimatization to 7000 meters was not well and fell from the Valley of Everest, come back tomorrow. Alexey Bolotov, his companion, but it's here waiting for him. And it was almost better that they were not there, because knowing them, if they were there with us would react in their own way.

Why did you decide to stay in Nepal to do rescue?
I came here to try to lend a hand in this country. The hotheads are everywhere. I have received so much from these people, and even with a knife I can hate them. The last thing you want to do is the figure of the braggart and the intolerant. Just yesterday and today I brought away with my free helicopter and two Sherpas who were not good.

This episode then it made you feel betrayed?
Yes, a little 'yes. But at this time many are telling me "by Simone," which means brother. I apologize, I say they are not all like that, and thank me for what I'm doing for them. I do not spoil the mood of the bad apples. I am able to turn the page, but I fear that Ueli not come back.

In fact, you do not return?
Ueli and I coped very well, like brothers, and even physically in perfect harmony. We are already talking about doing other things together, maybe in Alaska or Patagonia, but I do not believe in Nepal. He and Jon were very upset.
Luca Signorelli - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli)
> [...]
>
> I'll assume that's just a description and not a justification, Luca?

Of course it's not a "justification", because I don't really know what really did happen, so I don't know if there's anything that can be really "justified". The description of what happened to Simone & C. is pretty horrifying, but Simone seems quite cool about it, so I don't know what was the real level of seriousness involved. I suspect it may have been quite serious!

I'm afraid that we instinctively tend to pigeonhole people, particularly people with some deep rooted "mythical" image like Sherpas, into definite and normally very simplistic/inaccurate portraits, that conveniently forget 1) they're people like everyone else, so they may be good or bad people like everyone else and 2) they ethnic history matters a lot, even if it's not necessarily the part of their ethnic history we like to remember.

As I said - my family comes from a very close, very small community of the Dolomites, and I've been growing up into small even if not necessarily closed mountain community of the NW Alps. You have no idea how community / family bond may develop into an instinctive refusal of anything that's outside these bonds. People considering "foreigners" anyone coming from another village less than half mile away. And we're not speaking of caricatures of inbreed, ignorant rednecks here - it's something that may be accepted or even endorsed by people with two degrees and ample life experiences abroad.

I repeat - the point is that in a mountain community there's a BIG difference between local and not local, and being local means a lot of things, being NOT local - even if you're a great guy and you mean well - means a lot of other things. This without denying that in the Everest fiasco there were probably other elements being played, on both sides.
AUSSIE - on 01 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

In 2006 Lincoln Hall was assaulted on numerous occassions when descending Everest during his rescue. Talking to him later he was of the opinion that the Sherpas were really pissed off they had to stick their necks out to go get him and or put on hold their own tasks to assist with the recovery.

A quote from an interview below:-

Q: The Sherpa rescuers who brought you down didn't live up to the Sherpa image. They terrorized you ó or was that a hallucination?

A: It certainly wasn't. The first obstacle the Sherpas and I had to face was the Third Step. I had to rappel down that, and I had these useless gloves and frostbitten hands. I knewif I used my hands to brake with friction I would probably lose all my fingers. Having 30 years of climbing experience, I knew how to rappel in a different way, and the two Sherpas didn't want me to do that. We all got quite heated. That's a common response to altitude, particularly when life and death and disfiguration are on the table. I managed to get down in a way they didn't want me to, and one of the Sherpas took offence at this. I think that they just lost their grip. That was enough to instill ó I don't know whether it was paranoia ó but I thought they wanted to kill me and rob me. That was quite a good motivation to keep moving.

Continued Below


Q: A Sherpa attacked you with an ice axe!

A: He hit me a couple times, and if I hadn't put my arm up one would have cracked me across the skull and that could have been the end of the story. I've never heard anything like this happening. So back in Kathmandu I got my wife to take some photos, and I had big bruises despite the fact that I've got a down suit on, and fleece underneath.

Q: You didn't name the Sherpas.

A: Because I don't know what was going on in their heads, and they may not have known what was going on in their heads ó here's another westerner who, by the time we get there, will probably be dead anyway. I don't blame them.

______________________________________________


When I was on the North side of Everest in 1987 there was a very noticeable, weird vibe between the Euros and Tibetans / Sherpas from the various expeditions. The Australians, Yanks, Japs and British more or less all seemed to get on really well with their Sherpas and Tibetans but the Swiss, French, Spanish and Germans seemed pretty farked in their attitude towards the locals and they included some pretty famous climbing personalities. In the end some of the Sherpas and Tibetans had a real "wouldn't piss on em" type attitude towards the Euros. Also we were all disgusted with the filthy mess left behind by several departing European expeditions at BC that included large quantities of prescription drugs, syringes, catheters etc and other potentially dangerous items scattered around, all being picked up and pocket by young Tibetans!

ice.solo - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Not sure about what happened (I wasn't there), but as someone whose family comes from a small, closed mountain community, and who lived for years into another small mountain community, I think I can recognize some of the mechanisms behind this incident. You may have the best intentions of the world, but if you're not local, you're not local. And "not locals" in the end are the same thing as enemies.

yep. forming a mob and throwing stones is normal justice amongst many communities. having worked on stuff that includes exactly that (tribal law systems) its expected, and they will do it amongst themselves as well as outsiders.
as it goes, this incident amongst sherpas is fairly tame. i work with some guys from the gurkhas and when they heard about all this they told stories of heads being cut off where they come from.

its western business for westerners, employing locals, set up in another culture. stuff like this happens.

everyone wants that distant expedition feel - so long as its sanitized and looks like the brochure.
Luca Signorelli - on 02 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> its western business for westerners, employing locals, set up in another culture. stuff like this happens.
>
> everyone wants that distant expedition feel - so long as its sanitized and looks like the brochure.

That's more or less what I intended. I think that part of the "shock" implied in some of the second hand reports I've read is like "oh no, this can't happen with Sherpas" because we've been somehow always expecting to see Sherpa culture match the "always smiling, always humble, always helpful" icon you always read in old expedition book. Had this happened in, let's say, Pakistan, it would have been shrugged off as "stuff happens in those places".

In reply to Luca Signorelli:
> Had this happened in, let's say, Pakistan, it would have been shrugged off as "stuff happens in those places".

It's funny I was thinking about that the other day; I've studied anti-Muslim/immigration political and social movements for my work in the past and I was thinking how this event doesn't fit into some preconceived notion of what Sherpas should be like (in fact, reading the threads completely the opposite). Had it happened in Pakistan with local porters or guides you can bet all the normal websites would be immediately branding it "sudden jihad syndrome" - yes, they've come up with a term for it, so random acts of violence committed by someone who is probably a Muslim (the facts of that are never very important) can be rolled into a wider agenda of prejudice.

Rather, Sherpas have a great rep generally - idealized, romanticized (and with more than a whiff of orientalism to it) but still good - hence an unwillingness to see that you can get angry violent people everywhere.
Kai - on 03 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

This is just nuts. Sherpas were completely out of control. There's no excuse for this kind of behavior. My condolences to Simone, Jon, et. al.

nz Cragrat on 05 May 2013
Damo on 07 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Have a read of: http://www.himalayamasala.com/himalaya-blog/everest-lawlessness-and-expedition-industry

It's one of the best articles I've read on this fiasco. And I've read a few now.... ;-)
Morgan Woods - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Damo:

can i just say this kind of behaviour gives angry mobs a bad name :p
Luca Signorelli - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Have a read of: http://www.himalayamasala.com/himalaya-blog/everest-lawlessness-and-expedition-industry
>
> It's one of the best articles I've read on this fiasco. And I've read a few now.... ;-)

Just to keep things clear: Simone, who doesn't sound particularly traumatized, clearly stated in several interviews to the Italian press that he thinks that its WRONG to proceed in a "formal" legal way against the people who did assault him, because, given the context, it would create far more problem that it would solve. He said that there's the need for some deep change how thing run there, but the change must be mutual and agreed upon by all parties involved.

The comment you've linked above seems to me well meant, but as the author states, he has no direct experience of Nepal or Everest, while Simone definitely has both. I think also, but I may be wrong, that he quoted Vic Saunders a bit out of context.

ice.solo - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Damo:

what is it in that article that appeals to you damo? i read it and dont find it particularly special, not wrong or anything, but it just bundles together a bunch of 'stuff' about nepal and tries to hang it on this one event.
these points are delved into superficially, but not strung together in anyway that means much. rich people also climb annapurna, the same companies run trips all over the world, sherpas are just another tibetan sub-group, HAPs and guides in other countries do and dont do stuff like this....i cant see where any connection is other than in hindsight.

ive climbed in nepal, but actually spent more time there with matters relating to the maoist insurgency (interviews, cross-border movement), ive climbed in other tibetan areas too for what thats worth, some with militant issues parallel to whats gone on in nepal. its just a local flare up as i see it, in an anomaly of a scenario that flags peoples interest. to relate it to all nepals problems (not that the article really mentioned most of nepals actual spectrum of problems like tribal vendettas, islam vs hindu conflicts, refugees, AIDS, human trafficking, gender disparity etc etc) is a bit wishful.

you know the climbing world there better than i do, so am keen to hear why that article peaked on your radar. i dont doubt theres things im missing.
Damo on 07 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Well, I'm not sure it should all be put together into one Universal Theory of Everything as an answer. But he covered ground that other opinion-pieces on this have not, so I thought it added context that is important. There are various issues feeding the problem, they don't all slot together neatly into one theory or argument, as you can imagine. But it's important, I think, to have them in your head when thinking about what went on.

I don't agree with you that it's just like anywhere else in the region though. I think Everest, given the concentration of media and money involved, and particular level of interaction between locals and foreigners, is like a sentinel or forerunner. The economic hierarchy that has made that Everest system work is changing, flattening out, and some people find that hard to take.

If a Wall St banker can make 20x the average US wage and not destroy Western civilisation, then why can't a Sherpa - risking their lives and working hard - be allowed to earn 20x (or more) the local Nepali wage. That economic argument, about what it would do to the local economy, was a staple of why Sherpas have been paid so much less for doing so much more work. It's crap. Convenient crap that made modern commercial Everest expeditions affordable. In certain special areas of China and India, where they directly service Western business (mainly IT etc) the wages are approaching foreign levels, outstripping local wages. Why can't this happen on Everest?

The author of that piece makes some good observations about the particular commercial guiding on Everest. There are far too many vested interests in this debate. The people with the most 'experience' on Everest are part of the problem. They're good people, mostly, I know more than a few of them, but they've come to accept a system that is selfish, unjust and exploitative. It also pays their rent. It's not in their interest to change it.

Damo on 07 May 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Seriously Luca, who cares what Moro says to the press? He said one thing on the mountain, another thing in Kathmandu and will say another thing in Italy, another thing in a year from now...

As to 'direct experience', as I said to Mr Solo above, it's the people with the most 'experience' of Everest that are part of the problem. Of course they will argue long and hard otherwise, while sending impoverished local people through the icefall multiple times for a fraction of their own wage then claiming that they 'guide' Everest. There are too many people getting money from the system for they themselves to change the system. Most people admit that this incident has just been a hint that everything is not alright. The technique of deriding all outside scrutiny as ignorance never lasts.

I can't access Vic's HJ article (2011 is not online yet) so I don't know if he was misquoted. I will ask him. I do feel that this article - and I don't agree with it all - could have added another layer into the strata, in that some guides have experience of other types of expeditions and some guides only have experience is of Sherpa-fixed commercial trade-routes. In this case experience is no guarantee of perspective and certainly no guarantee of wisdom. Wisdom is always needed, and clearly perspectives are changing.
Luca Signorelli - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli)
>
> Seriously Luca, who cares what Moro says to the press? He said one thing on the mountain, another thing in Kathmandu and will say another thing in Italy, another thing in a year from now...


I don't know, all interviews he gave in Italian where absolutely consistent in his explanation of what had happened (and I still think I understand Italian ;) ) and the couple of English press statement I've read weren't exactly contradicting anything he told to the Italian press... and both Ueli and Jon stood by him and his version. Plus, he was the guy who got closest in harm's way during the confrontation with the Sherpas. So I'm not sure why I shouldn't care about what he says to the press, but maybe you knows more than me, so I'm not insisting
antolik - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Milesy: Money
mockerkin on 13 May 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Why do people think that climbing Everest has anything to do with climbing? Think about it.
GrahamD - on 13 May 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

> Why do people think that climbing Everest has anything to do with climbing? Think about it.

For many people, Everest by any route is almost the definition of climbing, whatever you or I think.
Robert Durran - on 13 May 2013
In reply to mockerkin:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Why do people think that climbing Everest has anything to do with climbing? Think about it.

It depends how you climb it. Think about it.

Blue Straggler - on 13 May 2013
In reply to mockerkin:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Why do people think that climbing Everest has anything to do with climbing? Think about it.

You've used the word "climbing" just before "Everest". Think about it.

Epsilon - on 13 May 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

Yeah, hard to understand how anyone would think this:

http://www.russianclimb.com/urubko_bolotov_everest.html

has anything to do with climbing...
Goucho on 13 May 2013
In reply to sebastien:
> (In reply to sebastien) In an interview before the incident:

Uli Stecks quote:
>
If you want an adventure, donít come to Everest. There are so many other interesting mountains around.

Got to ask the question - if this is what he thinks, why was he there in the first place?

Or am I missing something?

Mind you, I'd love to have seen the Sherpas try and pull this stunt if it had been John Barry or 'Brumie' Stokes up there!

Damo on 14 May 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to sebastien)
> [...]
>
> Uli Stecks quote:
> [...]
> If you want an adventure, donít come to Everest. There are so many other interesting mountains around.
>
> Got to ask the question - if this is what he thinks, why was he there in the first place?
>
> Or am I missing something?
>

Andrew Bisharat of Rock & Ice asked the same question at: http://eveningsends.com/2013/04/everest-is-not-for-climbers/ via Facebook:

"But at the same time, I have a hard time feeling very sympathetic to Steck, Griffith and Moro, whose actions seem to me to be quite arrogant. I mean, what were they thinking? Going to Everest and complaining, or at least not being differential to the fixed ropes and infrastructure that is so ingrained to the way of life on this mountain each May is as naive as going to Disneyland and complaining that you have stand in line for all the rides.

These climbers know this, too. Last year, Moro quit his summit bid on Everest because he was horrified by how many people were in his way. He reported a scene in which climbers were not even able to change their ascenders from one fixed rope to the next without their Sherpaís help, all creating a bottleneck clog. For experienced climbers such as Steck and Moro, who have the skills and fitness to go anywhere and do anything, please explain to me where is the joy in this style of ascent?"

To which I replied on FB:
"The joy, Andrew? It's in the money they get for going here and not somewhere else. They've realised that no one, in any meaningful numbers, gives a shit about new routes on smaller, more interesting peaks, so those aren't good business, they're a niche hobby in a big-numbers world. Everest is for business, not climbing, as you say. Ueli got more coverage (last year) following Sherpas up a snow route done 60 years ago than he got for a super-hard Piolets d'Or-winning new route, on Tengkampoche. He's a professional, he's in business. It's about brand recognition and market coverage."
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Have a read of: http://www.himalayamasala.com/himalaya-blog/everest-lawlessness-and-expedition-industry
>
> It's one of the best articles I've read on this fiasco. And I've read a few now.... ;-)

I liked one of the comments after the article, seems to sum a lot of this up well:

"Submitted by Anonymous on 8 May 2013.

I know nothing of mountaineering but found your analysis to be a highly rewarding read. Very well done."


:-)
ads.ukclimbing.com
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to mockerkin)
>
> [...]
>
> For many people, Everest by any route is almost the definition of climbing, whatever you or I think.

For many non-climbers perhaps.

Michael Gordon - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Damo:

Well maybe if this incident hadn't happened, we'd have found out why they went there? It certainly wasn't to follow Sherpas up a snow route done 60 years ago.
Damo on 14 May 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Damo)
>
> Well maybe if this incident hadn't happened, we'd have found out why they went there? It certainly wasn't to follow Sherpas up a snow route done 60 years ago.

I don't see any integrity in decrying the Everest circus when you've been using the structure built by the circus for your own benefit. I don't know if there's a Sherpa word for 'hypocrisy' but I know they know it when they see it.

There are at least four other routes already on the SW face. If you want a new adventure to make a big deal about, go somewhere else. There's more room left on the N and E faces for new routes and these are not 'despoiled' by fixed ropes and crowds. But you may never actually get on the face, and that's not a good look...

There are plenty more big unclimbed faces on the 8000ers but few have the structure in place to get you to the base of the actual climbing without lots of boring unpleasant slogging and route finding. Shisha S face is one (which ironically both Moro and Steck have done). Everest SW face, thanks to the Sherpa fixing, is another. For a two-man team it's actually a significant convenience, compared to the alternatives. I think that's a pretty obvious reason to go there, rather than somewhere else requiring more work for less climbing. But I'm sure Moro knows that.
Robert Durran - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Damo:
> There are plenty more big unclimbed faces on the 8000ers but few have the structure in place to get you to the base of the actual climbing without lots of boring unpleasant slogging and route finding.

While the sponsorship pull of Everest is no doubt a factor in attracting the likes of Steck and Moro (like the rest of us, their holidays need to be paid for and they don't have proper jobs), I simply cannot share your cynicism in assuming that the fixed icefall and descent is a factor in their route choice (West Ridge??). On the contrary, maybe the presence of the Everest circus detracts from the mountaineering challenge for climbers of their calibre. As it turned out, it ruined their holiday.

Damo on 14 May 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Damo)
> [...]
>
> .. I simply cannot share your cynicism

Oh go on, Robert! I've got plenty to go around.

mockerkin on 22 May 2013
mockerkin on 27 May 2013

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