2 Women Charter Helicopter to 'Climb' Everest

Had it drop them above danger zone; sherpas upset
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2014 1:17 PM CDT

(Newser) – Climbers are back on Mount Everest for the first time since a deadly avalanche killed 16 less than a month ago, but they're not exactly making the whole trek: In a bid to avoid the Khumbu Icefall where the avalanche occurred, the two climbers—one an American woman hiking solo and the other a Chinese woman accompanied by six sherpas—took what the Bangkok Post calls "the rare step" of hiring a helicopter to drop them just above the icefall at Camp 2. "Earlier we made such flights to transport only equipment or in cases of emergencies," says a charter company rep, calling the move "a first."

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Others, particularly in the sherpa community, are calling the move divisive—at best. "We decided not to climb out of respect for our friends who lost their lives at the mountain," says Tashi Sherpa, who lost three guides in the disaster. "It is not good that they are climbing. It does not reflect well on them or the mountaineering community here." One official wants an investigation into "how the two women chartered a helicopter and went off without informing anyone," but a tourism ministry official says that other climbers "have shown interest to continue their expeditions." It may soon be a moot point: The window for climbing Everest closes May 25. Meanwhile, American Jon Reiter tells his hometown Press Democrat how a missed alarm and the resulting 10-minute delay likely saved his life in the April 18 disaster. (Click for the story of the mountaineer who had a premonition of disaster on the mountain—in 2012.)

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