Everest: Moro, Steck and Griffith attacked at 7200m
On 27/4/2013 Simone Moro, Ueli Steck and Jon Griffith were attacked by a group of Sherpa while climbing to acclimatise at Camp 3 on Everest. The aggression continued at Camp 2.
Elsewhere something like this might get little more than a paragraph in the crime section of a local newspaper. But here we're on Everest, at 7,200 meters above sea level, and a fight with stones being thrown, stabbing, insults and threats is something which exceeds imagination. Even for the protagonists; on the one side Simone Moro and Ueli Steck, two of the world's most famous mountaineers, who along with Jon Griffith were reaching Camp 3 during an acclimatisation trip. On the other a group of Sherpas that were fixing ropes up the mountain face. Moro, Steck and Griffith know the rules and the Himalayas all too well. They know that the work of the Sherpas is important, delicate and dangerous. They fully respect them.
According to what the alpinists themselves declared, the three climbed fast and solo, to the left of the ropes which were being fixed. At one point, to reach their tent, they had to traverse and were forced to cross the ropes. Which they did, trying not to create any problems for the Sherpa. Griffith crossed first. Then Steck. At this point things degenerated. The leader began to shout. Abseiled down to Steck. Accused the alpinists of having dislodged ice onto the Sherpa, of having interfered with their work. Somehow Steck and the leader even "touched" each other. At this point the alpinists tried to calm matters down. To explain themselves. They even offered to help fix ropes. But in vain. The Sherpa leader called his men (17 in total) off the face and they all descended to Camp 2. Moro, Steck and Griffith did so later, but only after having fixed another 260m of rope.
It could all have finished here. With a heated discussion and an "almost" fight at 7200m. Unfortunately though this wasn't the case. A second act unfolded at Camp 2. The most incredible and also most painful. For when the three descended into Camp 2, they were challenged violently by a group of circa 80 Sherpa. According to Moro, Steck and Griffith, they were insulted and threatened (including death threats) and rocks were thrown at them. Perhaps one of these hit Steck in the face. Moro dodged a knife which hit his shoulder. The entire incident lasted about an hour... and only the providential intervention of the other mountaineers at Camp 2, who acted as a buffer, stopped things from getting worse. Moro, Steck and Griffith returned to Base Camp and the Nepalese Authorities are now dealing with this issue. Steck and Moro are now considering abandoning their expedition which had aimed to establish a new route on Everest. There's no point guessing about things, at this point it's important to hear the views of the Sherpa, too. And while it is clear that violence must be condemned at all cost, we also need to understand more, comprehend the stress and their "working conditions" on the highest mountain in the world.
In short, it's all particularly ugly, perhaps even discouraging. Over the years we have become used to seeing Everest as a world to its own, far removed not only from all the other mountains but also from the normal world. But what happened up there really does exceed even the (darkest) imagination and requires profound reflection on behalf of alpinists and the mountaineering world.
>> The facts as they unfolded according to Simone Moro, Ueli Steck and Jonathan Griffith <<