Quo vadis, Everest?
The avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on Good Friday could be a decisive turning point in the history of Mount Everest. For the first time since the start of commercial expeditions to the highest mountain in the world in the late 1980s there will be almost certainly no clients who reach the summit via the Nepalese south side this spring. The season is over, not officially, but de facto. All major expedition teams have left the base camp, many climbers have meanwhile arrived in Kathmandu. There are more and more reports about massive threats of a small group of Sherpas against those compatriots who wanted to stay on the mountain despite the avalanche disaster with 16 deaths. Western climbers were apparently threatened too.
Small violent group
“The Sherpas on the teams were told their legs would be broken if they took clients onto Everest”, writes US climber Greg Paul, who was in the team of Himalayan Experience, in his blog. “Expeditions relying on Sherpa-power were told to leave base camp within days or face consequences that implied potential violence.” Members of other expeditions also report about pressure by a small violent group.
Already in 2013 it became clear that there were rifts in the community of Sherpas which war formerly so homogeneous. After a dispute on the mountain the European climbers Ueli Steck, Simone Moro and Jon Griffith were kicked, beaten and threatened with death by a Sherpa-mob in Camp 2. The Nepalese government later announced to establish a guarded post at the base camp in spring 2014. However, it should not open until early May. The few security forces who were already on site in April did obviously not deter the violent gang.
No justification for violence
April 18 was a Black Friday in the history of Everest, and a tragedy for the families of the 16 victims. Quite rightly all work on the mountain was stopped to have time to mourn. And rightly the Sherpas called for a better financial protection in case of such accidents. However, nothing can justify violence on Everest – and also not to threaten with it. Maybe those aggressive Sherpa minority is not only cutting off its nose to spite its face, but also this of the peaceful majority. Some operators are considering to go to the Tibetan north side in future or even not to offer Everest expeditions.
Date28. April 2014 | 21:52