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with Stefan Nestler

Moro and Steck abandon Everest expedition

Bad mood on Everest

The top climbers Simone Moro from Italy and Ueli Steck from Switzerland and their British photographer Jon Griffith have abandoned their expedition on Mount Everest. They were responding to the fact that last Saturday they had been attacked and threatened with death by furios Sherpas in camp 2. „The history of mountaineering on Everest started with a partnership between a Sherpa and a foreigner. 60 years later this partnership has changed considerably“, Simone Moro said. He wants to stay at Everest basecamp to do some rescue flights with his helicopter. Ueli Steck headed back home. „My trust is gone. I can’t return to this mountain, even if all say that something like this would not happen again”, Ueli said in basecamp to the German journalist and climber Billi Bierling. „Who guarantees me that the furious mob will not cut my rope or burn down my tent?” 

The tip of the iceberg 

Ueli Steck

The shock is deep-seated. „It’s a miracle that we’re still alive, we’re not kidding nor exaggerating either“, Simone said. Ueli is „happy that I’m still alive“. Both climbers think that the real cause of the attack lies even deeper than the dispute about the fact that the three mountaineers had allegedly obstructed the work of the Sherpas with the fixed ropes. What had happened there was an expression of anger that has grown for years, Ueli said. „The Sherpas are working here for years and they are the rich people in Nepal, which also have some kind of power. They look at the westerners who make profits on the mountain. There is a deep rift between the Sherpas and these westerners.” Simone takes the same view: „I think that we were the tip of the iceberg. We were the final straw that broke… the Sherpa’s patience.” 

Other view on the incident 

There was a meeting in Everest basecamp between the two parties, at the end they shook hands. „We also received an official apology from all the Sherpa and Sirdar”, Simone said. The Nepalese government points out that both disputed parties had accepted their weakness. „Such incident should not repeat in the future”, is said in a press release from the Ministry of tourism. All should abide by the rules and regulations. Garrett Madison of Alpine Ascents has told, that on a meeting in basecamp on 18th April all expedition leaders agreed that nobody would be climbing while the Sherpas were working to fix the route. Simone Moro didn’t attend this meeting. Madison also said that in his opinion the Italian climber was jointly responsible for the escalation. Over an open radio frequency that anyone on the mountain could listen Moro had stated that if the Sherpa had a problem he could come down to Camp 2 and fight. 

Steck: Sherpas destroyed my dream 

Ueli Steck said he was deeply depressed. „We were a very strong team, and the conditions on the mountain are perfect. I’m 99 percent sure that we would have been successful, and that hurts. But I cannot simply return to the Everest. From this perspective the Sherpas have destroyed my dream.”

Although the incident on Everest is so far unique in its extent, the problem doesn’t seem to be new. US top climber Steve House reported about a similar experience of his team in 2011 on Makalu. While acclimating on the normal route on Makalu they had climbed solo next to fixed lines. Lead sherpa had threatened them there as well, Steve said: „I can see that the Everest workers/Sherpas could feel threatened by what they see as the ’emergence’ of climbers who don’t need them.”

Update 3rd May: Simone Moro has contradicted the version of Garrett Madison. „This is completely, completely, completely false! I never did such a stupid and provocative radio call, and I have witnesses to confirm it”, Simone said in an interview with „The report is falsifying facts to justify the tension and the violence in Camp 2. I can understand that he has to defend his business, but lying is not the way to do it.”


1. May 2013 | 0:57