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Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse
Photo by Simone Moro
Ueli Steck, Jon Griffith and Simone Moro at Camp 2
Photo by archive Jon Griffith
Ueli Steck ascending the Lhotse Face, with Sherpas on the right.
Photo by Jon Griffith
Simone Moro
Photo by arch. Simone Moro

Everest, interview with Simone Moro after the attack at 7200m

29.04.2013 by Vinicio Stefanello

We briefly talked with Simone Moro, currently at Everest Base Camp after he, Ueli Steck and Jon Griffith were attacked at 7200m on their way to Camp 3 on Everest. Here is his account of this incredible, terrifying incident which will require time to understand and comprehend.

Ciao Simone… first of all a warm hug for what happened to all of you on Everest. What’s the first thing that springs to mind...
Thank you... the history of mountaineering on Everest started with a partnership between a Sherpa and a foreigner. 60 years later this partnership has changed considerably.

I must say what happened seems like it has little to do with you. It seems like something had been smouldering, it looks like a riot.
Yes, I think that we were the tip of the iceberg. We were the final straw that broke... the Sherpa’s patience.

But do you understand why they got so angry with you?
Not really, there are still many question marks. We didn’t ascend using the fixed ropes, we didn’t bother anyone, and we climbed fast, alpine style to Camp 3 and when we went to our tent they just exploded.

But you think it’s due to their working conditions? The stress they’re under, the particular conditions that day?
It was a cold and windy day... we don’t represent much business for the Sherpa. And seeing 3 alpinists climb unroped for an hour 50/100m to the right of the fixed ropes might have made them nervous (jealousy? Who knows). In any case none of us bragged or provoked anyone. When we crossed the ropes things degenerated. We told them we’d help fix the ropes if they wanted us to, considering that conditions were harsh. They did nothing but shout and threaten, and Ueli and I fixed another 260 meters of rope for them and for everyone else.
 
So at 7200m there was a problem of "public order"
I repeat, at 7,200 meters it was cold and the wind was freezing. They started to scream and shout because we were there. And so I too began to shout back (but the step from there to being killed is a big one...). Then they told us they’d stop fixing the ropes. We said we’d be willing to help and they replied, you decide, we’re going down. So Ueli and I fixed 260 metres of rope. This must have hurt them and they came up with a lot of lies to justify their behaviour and provoke the aggression... It was something really nasty....  caused by 3-4 Sherpa but which then involved nearly 100 (who knows what they told them...).

It’s difficult to comprehend, even for you presumably, that crowd of Sherpa at Camp 2 waiting for you ...
It’s a miracle that we’re still alive, we're not kidding nor exaggerating either.

I think all have understood this by now. It must have been shocking…  something really dramatic
Ueli’s mouth bled due to having received a punch and having been hit by a stone, I was kicked and punched and slapped for a long time, we risked being stoned to death at Camp 2.

How did you defend yourselves ... in your account you mention that climbers in Camp 2 tried to save you...
We owe our lives mainly to 4 people. The first and most important is American climber Melissa Arnot. Then a Sherpa named Pan Nuru. Then an American guide named Greg who belongs to the IMG expedition.

I know it's difficult to answer, but what’s next? What’s going to on now?
We’re abandoning the expedition…  Despite having met those who attacked us, having embraced and having forgiven them, I wanted the meeting with everyone at base camp to end with my words that underlined the esteem I have for the Sherpa and Nepal, but I also stated that this violence killed our climbing dream and that we are leaving. I will probably stay on, but only to fly the helicopter and carry out rescue operations, but Ueli and Jon will return home. I want to add that the fact that I wish to stay and help with rescues (free for the Sherpa people) shows my desire to help these people. Everyone here is shocked and aware of the violence that was committed, they realised that a simple handshake isn’t enough to change a relationship that has mutated too much since that one in 1953. Today Everest is too much of a business and there are too many heroes...

Too much business and too many heroes... can you explain this better? Is Everest having become an amusement park the real problem?
No, Everest remains beautiful, dangerous, and also very difficult if you want to do something different or new. But the relationship between Sherpa and Westerners has changed a lot. I think the Sherpa are aware of how much money goes into all of this and they no longer accept that it’s not all theirs. I’d like to add a final, important fact, namely that we also received an official apology from all the Sherpa and Sirdar.

by Vinicio Stefanello

29/04/2013 - Everest: Moro, Steck and Griffith attacked at 7200m

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