By Jueseppi B.
Why are mountain climbers allowed to climb mountains? I know the smart ass answer given for decades: “because they’re there.”
And as evidenced on Good Friday, death is there as well. We don’t allow humans to text and drive, drink and drive, we try to regulate humans doing things that will eventually kill themselves….yet we allow humans to climb mountains…and die. Has anyone realized the danger that first responders put themselves in while attempting to rescue the living and dead who are climbing these mountains….because they are there?
From The New York Post:
A total of 13 people were crushed to death underneath a fearsome Mount Everest avalanche early this morning – the worst single catastrophe in the iconic mountain’s history.
The victims were all guides – ethnic Sherpas – who were helping climbers set up ropes and other safety measures when the snow rumbled down onto the popular climbing path.
‘It’s absolutely devastating,” survivor Ed Wardle told an NBC affiliate. “The atmosphere here at base camp is one of shock and now of grieving. I believe it’s the worst disaster in Everest history if not all mountaineering.”
Four other guides are still missing and six others are injured, Nepalese officials said.
A group of Sherpas who were working with NBC on an upcoming show for the Discovery Channel all survived the catastrophe, a spokesperson told The Post.
Wingsuit jumper Joby Ogwyn was slated to make his leap in two weeks and is reportedly helping with search and rescue efforts.
“The Sherpa guides were carrying up equipment and other necessities for climbers when the disaster happened,” a spokesman for Nepal’s Tourism Ministry, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, told the AFP news service.
Eight climbers perished in a massive 1996 avalanche and six guides died in a 1970 disaster.
“The avalanche last night on Mt. Everest is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who are lost and with their families,” Discovery Network executive Laurie Goldberg told The Mail.
Long considered one of the greatest mountain climbing challenges, more than 4,000 adventurers have reached Everest’s peak since Edmund Hillary first conquered it in 1953.
Thank you The New York Post.
Pictured: Nepalese Sherpa recovers in hospital after 13 of his friends are killed in high-altitude avalanche on Mount Everest while they were preparing route for tourists
From NBC News:
Death Is Part of the Business for Everest Sherpa Guides
BY KEITH WAGSTAFF
When an avalanche swept down Mount Everest on Friday, killing at least 13 Sherpa guides as they fixed ropes for other climbers, some members of the Sherpa community were not surprised.
Nima Wangchu Sherpa, 57, who grew up in Khumjung, northeastern Nepal, in the shadow of Everest, remembered his mother pestering his father to stop carrying loads up the mountain.
“Many of my dad’s friends died on the mountain, so my mom insisted that he stop,” Wangchu Sherpa told NBC News by telephone from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.
His father was part of the 1953 expedition, led by Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, that was the first first to scale Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world at 29,035 feet. His father later got a job for Hillary’s non-profit organization, the Himalayan Trust, which paid for Wangchu Sherpa to go to school.
Since that pioneering expedition, the word “Sherpa” has become synonymous with “mountain guide” to many Westerners. Plenty of Sherpas, however, do other things — from growing potatoes in small villages to practicing law in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital.
Sherpas first came to the area surrounding Mount Everest in Nepal from the Tibetan plateau around 400 years ago, and many of them practice a form of Buddhism similar to that practiced in Tibet. Many of them also speak the Sherpa language, which has never been written down, along with Nepali.
“Sherpa” was a term given by foreigners to ethnic groups surrounding Everest. Nowadays, the term Sherpa is slightly vague. The Royal Embassy of Nepal estimates there are around 100,000 self-designated Sherpas in Nepal, a number that might be inflated because of the influx of Western climbers.
“The word Sherpa carries big financial implications,” Peter Zuckerman, author of “Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2′s Deadliest Day,” told NBC News. “If you are Sherpa, foreigners want to hire you; if you’re not Sherpa, they don’t want to hire you.”
Being a Sherpa guide pays about $125 per load, per climb, Norbu Sherpa, an experienced guide, told the New York Times last year. In a country where the average person makes $700 per year, that is a good haul.
“They know that it’s a risky business, but it’s a quick way of making a lot of money in three months,” Wangchu Sherpa said. Some Sherpas, like Western trekkers, climb because they enjoy it. Many, however, are looking to make enough money during the climbing season (March to May) to start their own business, like a lodge for travelers or a tea house.
Sange Gorje Sherpa, 53, started as a guide when he was 18 years old. He eventually earned enough to open his own expedition business in Nepal before moving to Idaho 10 years ago.
“It’s like being in the army. In the army, people will shoot at you and you could die, but people still sign up to do it.”
His father and his grandfather helped foreigners climb Mount Everest, too. So did his son, Nangl, who had scaled Mount Everest two times before he died while on an expedition two years ago at the age of 24.
“I got a call in the middle of the night saying, ‘Your son was in an accident,’” Gorje Sherpa told NBC News. “It was a shock. He was a really good climber.”
Today, some young Sherpas are choosing school or big cities like Kathmandu over climbing. But tourists bring money, and there have been plenty of them in Nepal lately. In 2013, more than 800 people attempted to scale Mount Everest, according to the Nepal Tourism Ministry’s mountaineering department. It got so crowded that the government started requiring climbers to bring back 18 pounds of trash with them on descent.
Sagarmatha National Park, at the foot of Everest, received 25,000 visitors in 2010 — a number that dwarfs the roughly 2,500 native Sherpas who live there year-round.
Early in their history, Zuckerman said, many Sherpas thought it was sacrilegious to climb Mount Everest because it was a holy site. That stigma has mostly died out.
“Sherpas have been dying on Everest for many, many years,” Gorje Sherpa said. “It’s like being in the army. In the army, people will shoot at you and you could die, but people still sign up to do it.”
NBC News Peacock Productions’ crews were on Mt. Everest preparing for Discovery’s “Everest Jump Live’”when the avalanche struck. We are grateful and relieved that the seven NBC News staffers on site are all accounted for and unharmed. Tragically, 13 Nepalese Sherpas from a number of expedition companies who prepare the mountain each year for climbing season lost their lives, and the rescue mission continues. We are working closely with the team on the ground to assist however we can, and our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families. The future of the production will be assessed at the appropriate time.
Thank you NBC News.
- Early Friday morning avalanche on Mount Everest killed at least 13 local guides and three are still missing
- Deadliest disaster in the history of Mount Everest
- A government report obtained by MailOnline lists two of the guides as being part of the NBC Everest Expedition
- NBC’s Peacock Productions was producing the live jump show for the Discovery Channel which will air a live jump so crews were at the mountain
- The special is going to star wing jumper Joby Ogwyn who previously worked with another tour company that lost three sherpas
- Network representatives confirmed that their seven-person news crew are all safe but they did not elaborate on which guide company they used
- Willie Geist is slated to host the May 11 special