/ The End of the Everest Myth?

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Frank the Husky - on 29 Apr 2014
A fascinating and intelligent article that should put any right thinking people off going to Everest (just so they can relate to their friends how they nearly died etc)

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web14s/wfeature-everest-myth

Personally, I've never bought into this "Once in a lifetime" rubbish that Kenton Cool et al peddle. Maybe it's time to close the mountain for a decade. Perhaps then the legions of "mountaineers" might look to more interesting and challenging summits that actually involve some climbing, spread the load a little and reduce the casualty rate amongst the used-and-abused Sherpa community. Or is that just silly talk?

Discuss.
Chris the Tall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Frank the Husky:

Will read the article later, but I expect it makes the same point that most of us have long felt - it's OK to risk your own life for your once in lifetime adventure, but not to demand others risk their lives.

So there are now loads of tourists stuck a base camp with nothing to do, because they cant operate without the sherpas? Surely the thing for them to do now is a far more "once in a lifetime" experience - go and climb a mountain under your own steam.
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

Strange view. It’s the Sherpas’ livelihood. If they didn’t think risking their lives was worth the reward they wouldn’t do it. Depriving them of that opportunity out of concern for their welfare is bizarre.

There’s plenty of reasons to dislike the Everest circus but this strikes me as the least convincing I’ve heard.

jcm
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Frank the Husky:

>A fascinating and intelligent article that should put any right thinking people off going to Everest

No need, surely. And the 'blithe cretins' don't read Alpinist magazine
anyway.

jcm
butteredfrog - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

And why can't they operate without the Sherpa? Look what happened last year when a Western team set off on their own.
Roberttaylor - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Frank the Husky:

>Stuck in basecamp
>Unable to climb
>1000s of pounds worth of equipment
>my face when http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/85/30/5e/85305efdd72a102c6f368bc0627b695c.jpg

I am eagerly awaiting the ebaying of their boots.

Good article.
Robin Woodward - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

What he said with added overtones of opportune Maoist influence without the full understanding to add a well-informed comment.
Skyfall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> It’s the Sherpas’ livelihood. If they didn’t think risking their lives was worth the reward they wouldn’t do it. Depriving them of that opportunity out of concern for their welfare is bizarre.

Completely agree.

The Sherpa argument is in reality a separate issue. If it needs to be better regulated, fine. However, presumably they want the work and accept there is a risk vs reward element, as for any mountain based activity.

Quite separately, the thought of closing Everest for a while is perhaps not a bad one if the Sherpas can find employment elsewhere - on the right terms of course.
Damo on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Strange view. It’s the Sherpas’ livelihood. If they didn’t think risking their lives was worth the reward they wouldn’t do it. Depriving them of that opportunity out of concern for their welfare is bizarre.

No. That is a trite and convenient rubbish excuse for doing nothing. Easy to talk it from a distance, different in reality. It's not really a choice.

“They lack education and job opportunities in other sectors. ... they have no option to working for foreign clients,” he told the Italian newspaper Republica this week. ”For the foreigners mountain climbing is a fun, an adventure. For the Sherpas it is an obligation…” - Apa Sherpa

http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/the-everest-spring/
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:

Nonsense. It's not an excuse for doing nothing. As someone rightly said above, the question of Sherpa welfare is a separate issue.

The general principle being proposed, however, is that we shouldn't go mountaineering on Everest with Sherpa aid *at all* because of the risks to them. At that fundamental level, this is bollocks, and would be highly unpopular with the Sherpas if actually carried into practice, leaving them to go back to subsistence peasanthood.

jcm
butteredfrog - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:

Is that just one mans view though? Apa Sherpa might be the antisocial guide with a lack of tolerance of Knobheads. I know instructors in the Lakes like that.

On the other hand I have met Sherpas who are fiercely proud of their abilities and the job they do. You can't base an argument on one mans word.
Chris the Tall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to butteredfrog:

The Simone Mori fracas ? Wasn't that because the sherpas felt that the westerners were putting their lives at risk. And whatever the rights and wrongs of that incident, the sherpas will probably feel that their worst fears have been realised - sherpas die whilst westerners play.

However I don't see the relevance to my suggestions that the frustrated Everest climbers should go and attempt something that is more within their own competence - i.e. something which doesn't require sherpas on the mountain at all.
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

>Wasn't that because the sherpas felt that the westerners were putting their lives at risk.

And their jobs, I suspect.

jcm
Chris the Tall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Not quite the point I was trying to make, but I'm also trying to work so haven't got time to fully compose my thoughts.

Basically it comes down to people who are so far out of their depth that they are only there because other people are induced to take significant risks on their behalf. I suppose it all boils down to money in the end, but there is an element of preying on others poverty.
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:
> but there is an element of preying on others poverty.

Well, yes - but then, like the Sherpa fellow said, the Sherpas have no choice. They do, of course. They can carry on starving. When the fellow says they have no choice, what he actually means is that the choice of working for the wicked western post-imperialists is so much better than the choice of not working for them that there's no real decision to be made. The problem is the existence of poverty and starvation in the first place, not the wicked Western mountaineers.

IME the problem with your admirable suggestion that the blithe cretins should go and attempt some peak within their competence to achieve under their own steam is that in order to achieve that they would need to fly back to the UK and make a summer ascent of Mount Snowdon by the Pig Track, and most of them would need a fine day to contemplate that.

jcm
Post edited at 12:10
Ramblin dave - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> Basically it comes down to people who are so far out of their depth that they are only there because other people are induced to take significant risks on their behalf. I suppose it all boils down to money in the end, but there is an element of preying on others poverty.

Couldn't you apply exactly the same argument to all the "proper mountaineers" who've worked with Sherpas down the ages, though?

It feels like the issues here are clouded a bit by the mixing of decent concern for the Sherpas' wellbeing with with a lot of UKC posters bolstering their own egos by joining in with the pack and savaging "wannabes" and "tourists" who aren't "real mountaineers" like us...
JMGLondon - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> It feels like the issues here are clouded a bit by the mixing of decent concern for the Sherpas' wellbeing with with a lot of UKC posters bolstering their own egos by joining in with the pack and savaging "wannabes" and "tourists" who aren't "real mountaineers" like us...

Yes, I'm not convinced that all of the people waiting at BC are one big homogeneous group of fat american tourists. In reality, some / most will be experienced climbers who have put the time in in the hills.
butteredfrog - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> The Simone Mori fracas ? Wasn't that because the sherpas felt that the westerners were putting their lives at risk. And whatever the rights and wrongs of that incident, the sherpas will probably feel that their worst fears have been realised - sherpas die whilst westerners play.

You get that in any mountain region! eg French guides wary of the unknown climbers above them and their client/s. The Sherpas are not the "noble savages" of Western romanticism, they are mountaineering professionals who (all the ones I have met anyway) are fiercely proud of their skills and reputation.

> However I don't see the relevance to my suggestions that the frustrated Everest climbers should go and attempt something that is more within their own competence - i.e. something which doesn't require sherpas on the mountain at all.

That would go down well: "Sorry boys we don't need you any more, they are all going for a walk up Island Peak. Looks like you are all foregoing your footballers (by Nepali standards) wages this year. Tough Sh*t"

Adam
Chris the Tall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> Couldn't you apply exactly the same argument to all the "proper mountaineers" who've worked with Sherpas down the ages, though?

Like everything it isn't black and white, but in the old (Bonington) days the westerners did their share of hauling, took their share of risks, and had less reliance on the sherpas in the danger zones. Of course the sherpas want to be more than mere porters.

> a lot of UKC posters bolstering their own egos by joining in with the pack and savaging "wannabes" and "tourists" who aren't "real mountaineers" like us...

Agree there. The notion that your average Everest climber would struggle to do Snowdon, or is less of a real mountaineers than a Stanage VS bumbly like me is no more accurate than they portrayal as top mountaineers in the press.
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

I've met three Everest client punters. Two of them I literally had to get a rope out on paths to look after. The other one I'll grant you could probably have managed Snowdon even in the rain. but certainly not, say, a mountain V Diff in those conditions. It’s a small sample, I grant you.

jcm
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Damo on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> The notion that your average Everest climber would struggle to do Snowdon, or is less of a real mountaineers than a Stanage VS bumbly like me is no more accurate than they portrayal as top mountaineers in the press.

Going by what I've seen of Everest climbers on other mountains, I would bet that of the 300 western clients at Everest BC last week, no more than 50 of them could lead a Stanage VS.
Carolyn - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

My sample (of 2) is rather different to yours. Both were very competent multi pitch trad leaders at HVS (and perhaps higher). One I haven't seen on a mountain rather than a crag; the other I'd trust to get me out of pretty much anything in the British hills - and there aren't many people I'd trust to do that rather than choose to take responsibility for myself.

Having said that, I've heard plenty of stories of punters in other parties - eg unaware they're got the crampons on the wrong feet. Some guides appear to set rather higher standards for their paying clients than others.
Damo on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> The problem is the existence of poverty and starvation in the first place, not the wicked Western mountaineers.

1. Thanks, Captain Obvious.

2. Just because the poverty exists, does that make it OK to exploit it, at a human cost, for something so pointless as an Everest summit? Just because you can do something, should you?

This is not an academic exercise for you to argue about on the internet and feel good. These are real problems for real people that require real action to solve. Not undergrad economics spouted in a such a derisory style and smug tone to remind us that "they can carry on starving."
r0x0r.wolfo - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:
> 1. Thanks, Captain Obvious.

> 2. Just because the poverty exists, does that make it OK to exploit it, at a human cost, for something so pointless as an Everest summit? Just because you can do something, should you?

> This is not an academic exercise for you to argue about on the internet and feel good. These are real problems for real people that require real action to solve. Not undergrad economics spouted in a such a derisory style and smug tone to remind us that "they can carry on starving."

But that's the reality of the fact, it is you who are being academic in this regard. Would the Sherpas rather be exploited (some academic definition needed here as one would have to quantify the 'unfair treatment') or would Sherpas rather starve?

I've been very vocal about the support I have for the greater working rights the Sherpas as campaigning for by the way. By allowing themselves to be 'exploited' they actually have gained a position of power where they can make the demands they are now. By being exploited they earn 10-20 times more than the average Nepalese, they get to feed their families and afford their children relative luxuries. Would it have been better if they sat down and died for the dignity of not being 'exploited' by your Western standards?
Post edited at 13:22
Chris the Tall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I shared a room with Alan Hinkes at PYB once - he complained about the cold. It's only a small sample, but I reckon these "Greater Ranges" climbers are hopeless without 5 layers of down !
butteredfrog - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

Hinkes is a Yorkshireman, they complain about everything! Bet he didn't buy a round either? :)

(Sorry Alan)
Howard J - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Frank the Husky:

The article does seem to be guilty of the very romanticism and patronisation of the sherpas that it disparages.

You only have to look at the brochures of any of the western guiding companies to realise that they run trips to a wide variety of objectives offering all levels of mountain challenge and difficulty. For most Everest is just a small part of their business, but the one which attracts most media attention.

The fact is that the genie is out of the bottle. Mountain tourism is a fact. People want to climb Everest for a variety of motives and if the western companies were to withdraw (which of course they're not going to do) then the ones based in Kathmandu will simply sell their services direct to the clients.

There's a separate sporting argument to be made about lighter-style expeditions, which the leading climbers are already doing. However most of the punters who wish to climb big mountains will prefer to get someone to organise the logistics and perhaps provide guiding, because they don't have the time or the local contacts to do it themselves.

Is it ethical to ask someone to risk their life? Perhaps not. But is it ethical to go to a poor country such as Nepal and deprive the locals of employment by being self-sufficient?
Skyfall - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:

I've met a few. One a very competent mountaineer, no question. The second, no real climbing experience under own steam but had been dragged up plenty of big hills so had the requisite high altitude CV; more than many in fact. The final one a well paid City financial services type with close to zero personal climbing/mountaineering experience although had done the bare minimum number of big hills (guided) and pretty much the expected stereotype. Even the latter two were very motivated though and certainly not without some relevant experience. I don't know what that says other than there are lots of types of people who do go and it's probably unfair to stereotype overly. After all, who does have the time to organise that sort of venture on your own and have a reasonable prospect of success, even if most of us wouldn't want to do it that way.

And, yes, I've been guided up one or two big hills but turned away from the Dark Side and pursued personal climbing as the more worthwhile and ultimately enjoyable way.
Post edited at 13:37
Sally Bustyerface - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> >Wasn't that because the sherpas felt that the westerners were putting their lives at risk.

> And their jobs, I suspect.

> jcm

Nail, on head, hit.
Damo on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

> But that's the reality of the fact, it is you who are being academic in this regard. Would the Sherpas rather be exploited (some academic definition needed here as one would have to quantify the 'unfair treatment') or would Sherpas rather starve?

So those are the two choices? Exploitation or starvation? Nothing in between? You're copying John in making a pointless assertion of irrelevant 'fact' instead of moving toward an actual understanding of the reality. You're all description, no solution.

> Would it have been better if they sat down and died for the dignity of not being 'exploited' by your Western standards?

Again, a manufactured choice of two extremes = Straw-man argument = disregard

You can put exploited in quotation marks to question its validity, but again, your theory falls flat in the face of reality, which is that a large number of the people concerned feel they are being exploited.

And even if they didn't, do YOU think it's OK to use people that way? Therein lies the most effective answer. Modify the demand to improve the process.

johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:

Damo, you're being thick and tilting at windmills.

The proposition was that people shouldn't go in for the Everest circus because it exploits the Sherpas by exposing them to risk and therefore it should stop. I and others were pointing out that that's bollocks and leaves the Sherpas worse off than before.

That doesn't have anything to do with the issue which is exciting you, which is whether or not the Sherpas should be paid more or treated better. Those are really political questions; no doubt the answer is yes in some sense but then no doubt we should all send money to the people who make lots of cheap products we buy.

jcm
Offwidth - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
If you actually read the article it says something else.

I also like the comment afterwards: let the western guides share the risk so its clearly not labour exploitation but shared desire and pride in their work (or better still take Brice's sensible advice and use a helicopter to move some essential kit over the icefall to reduce the number of inevitable deaths).
Post edited at 15:09
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

I wasn't responding to the article. Obviously that says something else.

jcm
r0x0r.wolfo - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:
> So those are the two choices? Exploitation or starvation? Nothing in between? You're all description, no solution.
The solution is to let them carry out doing their jobs and gradually build up their working rights. How have I not been clear about this? Now tell me, what is your solution?

> Again, a manufactured choice of two extremes = Straw-man argument = disregard
Where's your solution, where's your choice? There's no straw-man if you don't have an argument to present. I can't even build a flimsy version of your argument because you don't actually have one, besides frowning on what happens in other parts on the world from the comfort of the U.K. Do you even understand what a straw-man argument is? I think you're trying to say that it's a false dilemma, which conveniently ignores the overwhelming poverty and malnutrition of the Nepalese who aren't mountain guides (but who gives a shit about them right?)

> You can put exploited in quotation marks to question its validity, but again, your theory falls flat in the face of reality, which is that a large number of the people concerned feel they are being exploited.
Who are the people concerned? The media?

> And even if they didn't, do YOU think it's OK to use people that way? Therein lies the most effective answer. Modify the demand to improve the process.
Oh right, "and even if they didn't" = I'm talking out of my arse.

I don't think they are being used. They don't have the best standards of work and living, but they are doing well for themselves in Nepal and have a substantially bigger voice than the poor Nepalese who you choose to ignore.

It's all nice feeling outraged from the comforts of the U.K. but the Sherpas are actually doing something about their situation and have carved out a life for themselves. Let this process continue. Your solution is obviously to write drivel on the internet, good for you.
Post edited at 16:18
Goucho on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

(or better still take Brice's sensible advice and use a helicopter to move some essential kit over the icefall to reduce the number of inevitable deaths).

Or even better, use a helicopter to take not just the gear, but also the clients straight to the South Col. Put a ladder on the Hillary Step, job done, Bobs your uncle.

Just think how many people the guiding companies could drag up the mountain in a season then, and also increase their profit margins substantially.

It would also remove the moral argument regarding exposing Sherpas to the dangers of the Khumbu.

Offwidth - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Goucho:

Sure but they probably wouldn't like the risk of the heli flight. Another good point in the article is to remove some from the list of those who have 'climbed' the mountain: unless they did actually climb it rather than being hand held up i (some experienced paying clients would still qualify).
victorclimber - on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Frank the Husky:

I agree with you Frank ,but it will never happen the people who can afford Everest aint going to want to Climb anything Lower ..no Kuddos in that
Goucho on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> Sure but they probably wouldn't like the risk of the heli flight. Another good point in the article is to remove some from the list of those who have 'climbed' the mountain: unless they did actually climb it rather than being hand held up i (some experienced paying clients would still qualify).

Well we all know there is a world of difference between 'climbing' Everest, and 'getting up' Everest.

Of course, the sad thing is, that there are probably a few serious climbers on 'non guided' expeditions, who get lumped in with all fame hunters who simply wrote out a cheque to Nanny McPhee Expedition Limited.
j0ntyg on 29 Apr 2014
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> Like everything it isn't black and white, but in the old (Bonington) days the westerners did their share of hauling, took their share of risks, and had less reliance on the sherpas in the danger zones.

A good example of that is the Annapurna south face expedition in 1970. Mike Thompson was one of those. In fact Bonington chose him as a logistics man and high altitude porter, not a lead climber. There is a video on u- tube about the expedition which shows this. He was descending with Ian Clough when Ian was killed. He also went on to think seriously about this Sherpa/Nepalese situation. More deeply than most of us. See the links.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASs95G49OjI
http://www.triarchypress.net/michael-thompson.html

Damo on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:


> The proposition was that people shouldn't go in for the Everest circus because it exploits the Sherpas by exposing them to risk and therefore it should stop.

Read it again. Nowhere does it say that climbing Everest with Sherpa assistance should stop. You are determined to not understand the issue and just regurgitate what you already think.

> That doesn't have anything to do with the issue which is exciting you, which is whether or not the Sherpas should be paid more or treated better.

The Everest show and climbing Sherpa welfare are inextricably linked and trying to parse them as you are is absurd.
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Damo on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
Again, you are regurgitating a tired argument that recent events have shown to be both self-serving and unsustainable. You're simply a few years behind the game.

All you show is that you don't understand the article linked in the original post. It is asking westerners to rethink, reconsider and maybe change the way they go about that type of climbing in that part of the world. It can still involve Sherpas and clients on Everest, but in a better way, where the relationship is more honest and equal.

If the culture of modern Everest climbing becomes more transparent, more honest and more equitable, both in individual accountability and in the reporting and narrative, then the role of Sherpa will be better appreciated, better respected and better rewarded. It may also mean that some people choose not to engage with Everest and Sherpas in that way and do something else, and that will also benefit the wider Khumbu and other regions in Nepal.

That is the solution, or the path to a solution, being proposed by Katie's article and it calls on the climbing and other communities back home 'outraged in the comforts of the UK' to undertake some changes to approach a real solution. It is a catalyst for change and necessarily rejects much of the status-quo you so blithely defend.

Who is concerned? Much of the Sherpa community. Read more.

You don't think they are being used? So you know better than all the people in Nepal currently involved in trying to improve the situation and at the heart of the recent developments? Again, your opinion flies in the face of the current reality. Casting it off as just a media beat-up is both ignorant and mean-spirited.

You can try to insult me but your 'business as usual' approach insults all the people involved over there who are so clearly pressing for change.
Post edited at 01:09
r0x0r.wolfo - on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:
> Again, you are regurgitating a tired argument that recent events have shown to be both self-serving and unsustainable. You're simply a few years behind the game.
No content.

> All you show is that you don't understand the article linked in the original post. It is asking westerners to rethink, reconsider and maybe change the way they go about that type of climbing in that part of the world. It can still involve Sherpas and clients on Everest, but in a better way, where the relationship is more honest and equal.
No content. 'Rethink, better way, more good things!' Better is good, more good is better. Great.

> If the culture of modern Everest climbing becomes more transparent, more honest and more equitable, both in individual accountability and in the reporting and narrative, then the role of Sherpa will be better appreciated, better respected and better rewarded. It may also mean that some people choose not to engage with Everest and Sherpas in that way and do something else, and that will also benefit the wider Khumbu and other regions in Nepal.
Better and more good.

> That is the solution, or the path to a solution, being proposed by Katie's article and it calls on the climbing and other communities back home 'outraged in the comforts of the UK' to undertake some changes to approach a real solution. It is a catalyst for change and necessarily rejects much of the status-quo you so blithely defend.
.... Change for the better. More good = more good. It might not be the solution but maybe the path to the solution, or maybe a trail to the path to the road of solutions.

> Who is concerned? Much of the Sherpa community. Read more.
No evidence given, just an assertion. Caveat 'even if it's not true' made it clear that you have no idea, just covering your back whilst making random unfounded statements.

> You don't think they are being used? So you know better than all the people in Nepal currently involved in trying to improve the situation and at the heart of the recent developments? Again, your opinion flies in the face of the current reality. Casting it off as just a media beat-up is both ignorant and mean-spirited.
...

> You can try to insult me but your 'business as usual' approach insults all the people involved over there who are so clearly pressing for change.

What the f*ck are you talking about? I've never seen such vacuous nonsense in my life. I say 'Sherpas are capable of making decisions and improving their livelyhood' by mentioning the fact they're doing exactly that by making very real and concrete demands. Your response: 'No! You're calling them stupid!'. I'm done taking you seriously, you literally have nothing to say.
Post edited at 01:48
johncoxmysteriously - on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to Damo:

>Read it again

F*ck me, you're a halfwit. It's like talking to a primary school child.

You don't seem to understand the 'reply' system. I wasn't replying to the original article. I was replying to this from Chris the Tall.

"it's OK to risk your own life for your once in lifetime adventure, but not to demand others risk their lives."

The thing is, you're not even wrong. Everything you say about the political issue is sensible.

jcm
Gordon Stainforth - on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Sad news just coming in that there's been some major disaster now on Ama Dablam. No details as yet.
Ander on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to Frank the Husky)
>
> No need, surely. And the 'blithe cretins' don't read Alpinist magazine
> anyway.
>
> jcm

Precisely.
VwJap - on 30 Apr 2014
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

2 Russians from altitude sickness? Is that the one

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