High on Everest, a Nasty Fight Breaks Out

Police investigating alleged fight between 3 climbers, 100 Sherpas

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 29, 2013 8:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – It sounds basically insane: Climbers and Sherpas brawling, on Everest, more than 20,000 feet in the air. But that's what allegedly happened near the famed mountain's summit on Saturday morning, reports the Independent. In its telling, some 100 Sherpas surrounded and attacked three European climbers—Jonathan Griffith, Simone Moro, and Ueli Steck—over an apparent breakdown of climbing etiquette. Outside picks up Moro's version of events, as posted on his blog: As the Sherpas were securing ropes leading to Camp III, the climbers stepped across their lines and, in the Sherpas' telling, dislodged ice on them (Moro disagrees with this claim). An argument broke out, and the Sherpas retreated to Camp II; when the climbers, who stayed behind to finish fixing the ropes arrived; they say they were kicked, punched, and had rocks thrown at them.

Moro writes: "After about 50 minutes the crowd had calmed down and the climbers, who had been pushed away and told to hide, had regrouped and were told that if they weren't gone in one hour that they would all be killed." The three returned to base camp, and Reuters reports that Steck has since vowed to end his ascent unless their security was vouched for; a rep for Nepal's Tourism Ministry said the government would indeed ensure their safety. Officials are working to investigate; the Independent sees the brawl as a possible ugly consequence of overcrowding on the mountain.

In this 1963 photo, members of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition team climb the West Ridge of Mt. Everest.
In this 1963 photo, members of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition team climb the West Ridge of Mt. Everest.   (AP Photo/Henry S. Hall, Jr. American Alpine Club Library, Barry Corbet Personal Papers and Films)
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