Eyewitness describes ‘terrifying’ Everest brawl

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In this photograph taken on December 4, 2009, Mount Everest is seen from The Kalapattar Plateau some 140kms (87 miles) northeast of Kathmandu. A mountaineer on Everest described on April 29, 2013, the “terrifying” scene of two famous European climbers fighting with Nepalese guides in a high-altitute brawl that has sparked a police probe. Ueli Steck, a Swiss national who holds climbing records, and Simone Moro of Italy, who has summited Everest four times, were approaching the 7,470-metre (24,500 feet) camp three on April 26, 2013, when the bust-up occurred. AFP FILE PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA

KATHMANDU — A mountaineer on Everest described Monday the “terrifying” scene of two famous European climbers fighting with Nepalese guides in a high-altitude brawl that has sparked a police investigation.

Ueli Steck, a Swiss national who holds climbing records, and Simone Moro of Italy, who has climbed the world’s highest peak four times, were approaching the 7,470-meter (24,500 feet) Camp Three on Saturday when the bust-up occurred.

The American eyewitness, speaking to AFP by telephone and on condition of anonymity, said Steck, Moro and British photographer Jonathan Griffith were asked to wait on the mountain while a group of Nepalese rigged up some ropes.

The witness said the Europeans, who were trying to climb the 8,848-meter (29,029-foot) mountain by a new “undisclosed” route without supplementary oxygen, ignored the request and carried on.

“The Sherpas told the team not to climb above them while they were fixing the ropes but they did it anyway. Then some ice fell and hit the Sherpas, which made them angry,” said the eyewitness.

Later in the day, a furious group of Nepalese stormed up towards the climbers’ tents and pelted them with stones until the men came outside, after which a loud argument ensued and punches were allegedly thrown.

“It was terrifying to watch — they nearly got killed,” the eyewitness said.

However Moro, in a statement on his website describing events, said it was “highly unlikely” that any ice had fallen as a result of his group. He said he had been attacked by an “out-of-control mob”.

“They became instantly aggressive and not only punched and kicked the climbers, but threw many rocks as well,” said the statement.

The statement added that Moro’s group had caused no interference for the Sherpas who were fixing the ropes, which they do each year so that hundreds of other summit hopefuls can access the mountain.

Police near the world’s highest mountain are investigating the incident and mediation meetings between the climbers and the local Sherpas took place on Monday afternoon, local officials told AFP.

“We were told our clients disagreed with the instructions of the Sherpa guides and went ahead over some icy terrain,” said Anish Gupta of Cho-Oyu Trekking, the Kathmandu-based company that organized the Europeans’ expedition.

“We understand that at some point the foreign climbers kicked some ice back and it hit one of the Sherpa guides, causing the fight to start,” Gupta told AFP.

According to the climbing company, the men have since descended from the upper stretches of the mountain.

Raj Kumar, a police constable in Lukla, told AFP that Steck had spent the night at a hospital near the airport in the town but did not show any sign of injuries.

On Monday morning Steck flew in a helicopter back to Everest’s base camp to rejoin Moro, who had remained on the mountain. The pair are reportedly mulling whether to try again to reach the summit.

More than 3,000 people have climbed Everest, which straddles Nepal and China, since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Every year hundreds more set out in April to attempt the climb.

Nepal’s tourism ministry announced Monday that a Chinese climber had gone missing after climbing the world’s fifth-highest mountain, the 8,481-meter (27,825 feet) Makalu.

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  • david

    not to follow the guides is sheer stupidity and arrogance. even if you had climbed the same mt and many more. safety should be first and foremost, for yourself and those with you.

    • iriga1_city1_boy1

      To David,
      I think arrogance and disrespect to other people played a part on this incident,aside from the safety factor.Some people thought that they were still in the 1800’s(the colonial times).There are always cultural frictions that crop up on this kinds of interactions in a society.I don’t think the Nepalese people are aggressive and violent type breed.

  • alfred sanchez

    im sure pera pera lang ang gusto ng sherpa kaya nagkagulo, hindi pupunta dyan foreigner para lang makipag away, ganito din sa pinas aakyat ka ng bundok kung sino sino naniningil sayo wala man lang ID or resibo, ok lang sana magbayad kung sa bayan napupunta e hindi e mukang sa bulsa lang ng mga corrupt na denr official napupunta akala mo pag aari nila ang bundok kadumi dumi pa, try nyo umakyat sa batulao, pico, maculot,etc para makita nyo sinasabi ko, pulag lang ang nedyo malinis linis pa pero corrupt din mga tao hindi mo alam saan napupunta P300 each na binabayad mo

    • GustoKoHappyKa

      parang ang galing galing mo ata alam mo talaga nangyari don ah… bilib na bilib ka siguro sa mga puti…

      • alfred sanchez

        natural marami sila naimbento at naitulong sa mundo e ikaw bilib na bilib ka siguro sa mga sherpa ano

      • GustoKoHappyKa

        hahaha… grabe bading na bading ka sa mga amerikano..isang nguso lang siguro nila tutuwad ka na…

        yeah tama ka..bilib na bilib talaga ko dyan sa mga Sherpa.. dahil ang Sherpa ang totoong unang naka punta sa tuktok ng Everest..

  • Jesse_Bruce_Pinkman

    Hoy sherpa, puwede pa share?

  • Lifeisfull

    Alfred, I think it’s not the local guides who are polluting the trails. Mt. Banahaw remains closed for hiking because of wanton disregard by climbers in keeping the trails clean. Tingnan mo: Ang mga Pinoy e araw-araw naliligo para maging malinis sa katawan, pero kaya nating i-rationalize kung bakit may basura sa paligid natin.

    • alfred sanchez

      sure ka ba hindi locals? how about yung pagtatayo nila ng tindahan sa bundok? pag tatayo ng cr at kung ano ano pa, hindi ba nakakadagdag sa pollution yun? tsaka ang isyu dun yung mga binabayaran saan napupunta? bakit walang resibo? sa inyo na ba yung bundok ngayon? isa ka siguro sa mga porter ano hayaan mo magpapabuhat ako sayo pag umakyat ako ng bundok

      • Lifeisfull

        The stores are there for commerce, my friend. It’s the law of supply and demand. And, it’s a good thing because it provides visitors and locals alike of the things they need when climbing, i.e water, nutrition, medicines. It’s the way how consumers dispose their garbage that is polluting the environment. And if you rant about the fees having no receipt at all, it’s a local community fund. We don’t know how they use it, because maybe the priority is not for the upkeep of the mountains but for something else. Who are we judge what is more important to them?

        If you look down at me as a porter, I guess I have to thank you for that. It’s an honest work for someone trying to make both ends meet, in a place where opportunities to make a living are hard to come by. But no, I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request of carrying your load. Sorry, but we don’t want more trash in the mountain.

      • alfred sanchez

        wow sigurado ako maka tedy casino ka, wala problema kung may naniningil? wala problema kung may nagtitinda? tignan mo nangyari sa banahaw nasira na, kung gusto mo ng may kaayusan dapat may sistema, kung may nagtitinda man dapat legal, kung may naniningil man dapat legal, kung may nagtatapon ng basura dapat parusahan hindi panay asta lang kagaya mo

      • Lifeisfull

        Some people dwell on absolutism. It’s a farce and no less than a tragedy why we have to deal with them sometimes. Tsk tsk.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vincent.borg.106 Vincent Borg

    Ah! of course it has to be the westerners fault.
    Up to our neck in guilt, presumed or real, we are quick to flail ourselves.
    Embroiled In its weak, vile correctness, the west is feeds upon its own gonads.

    I smell a rancid slighted eastern ego here.
    Yes sir, saving face is good cause for violence in some parts.
    How dare visiting foreigners believe otherwise and carry on up on their own ?

  • iriga1_city1_boy1

    I just want to be honest here: There is always a best maxim to follow in dealing with the natives in other places in this world: “Respect them,treat them as human beings,they will reciprocate and treat you just the same”.Having been around the world in different outposts,I was amazed why ,in one incident,a husband and wife(who were cleaning our barracks)gave me a beautiful going away present(a lladro).So I asked,why they had to do that gesture.She reasoned out,”Because the Filipino Boys were respectful,considerate and treat them with dignity while they tended the barracks,while the other Westerners were berating and hollering at them.”
    That was an example of how people react when you treat them as human beings.Doing otherwise ,can put you in “Deep Kimchee” and foster hatred.
    Arrogance and haughtiness in a foreign land are no sure fire formulas to get along with
    the inhabitants in those far flung places.
    Hope this simple incident will instill into the minds of other people.

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