Ugly Incident on Everest

Ueli Steck, Jon Griffith, and Simone Moro (left to right) at Everest Camp 2 after the altercation on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Jon Griffith

4/29/13 - Headlines and social media this morning are alive with reports of three well-known climbers fending off a mob of angry Sherpas after an altercation on the Lhotse Face of Mt. Everest. Simone Moro and Ueli Steck, along with climber/photographer Jon Griffith, were acclimatizing above Camp 2 (ca. 21,325 feet) for a possible new route without supplemental oxygen. On Saturday, April 27, the three men were climbing adjacent to a team of Sherpas who were fixing rope for guided clients to follow. Words broke out, and when the Western climbers returned to Camp 2 they reportedly were set upon by a large group of Sherpa climbers. Several minor injuries resulted, and the Western climbers said they received death threats; other climbers at Camp 2 helped guard the three men and defuse the situation. They quickly retreated to base camp, and Nepali authorities are investigating.

The Moro-Steck "NO2 Limits Expedition" is over.  Steck flew to Kathmandu by helicopter the morning after the incident, but reportedly has returned to Everest base camp, and is planning to leave with Griffith. Moro reportedly hopes to stay and work as a high-altitude helicopter pilot, as he has in previous seasons.

At his Facebook page, Griffith wrote, "We only lived thanks to some very brave people; we felt for sure that we were going to get stoned to death. The reasons behind the attack are complicated and deep-rooted, and to do with the relationship between Westerners and Nepalis on the mountain over many years. They are not because of our direct actions. I would like to think that anyone who has climbed with us knows that we are more than capable and would never interfere with the Sherpas' work."

The expedition issued a press release on Sunday describing the incident from their point of view. Read it here. It's unlikely that the Sherpa side of this story will ever be fully told, but the immediate cause of the incident, according to Western guides on the mountain, was frustration with the climbers' choice to ascend the Lhotse Face on a day when the Sherpas would be working on the route, especially considering they had already benefited from the Nepalis' labor in the dangerous Khumbu Icefall.


Previous Comments

The Sherpas are morons. I have cancelled my trip and will never in my life visit a nation full of cowards who use gang violence on someone who did nothing wrong except show them up. You people need to LEARN who these 3 climbers are, What they do for mountaineering and for Nepal. The times they risked their OWN LVES for others at NO COST, NOT for $60,000. You people defending these violent freaks baffle me to no end. Australia, here I come, Sherpas kiss my money good bye.

David - 10/21/2014 11:41:22

I am a Nepali Here but not a Sherpa. And i want to say that its not these Sherpas who gang rape, or do some other illegal things at least not when they have choice. These gangrapers are from borders of India. Sherpas are truely honest people and in my view and experience they are probably the most loyal people in the world see the gurkhas in UK as an example of their honesty. And the three men in the article were doing some follish acts interfering the Sherpas who were trying to save someone else life risking their own. These westerners were probably some kind of mental who were not taught to respect. And at last i want to say that Sherpas would never kill someone else beside in war where they would become a gurkha warrior or some other army. They were just thretening these follish (so called literate) westerners.

Ram - 05/19/2014 3:33:38

To those three climbers who tried to go up without consdering guidelines and challenged the Sherpa, Gentlemen, try to 1)respect the law of land ,2) If you go to cinema theatre in your country by buying a ticket, you won't go into the projector room and can't start playing the movies as you like, isn't it, if yes, then why you want to do that on Mt Everest ? You are a guest, and paid money for climbing , subject to rules and regulations. 3) Carry the loads what Sherpa carry for you, after carrying those loads for three years like that, and by eating a ( substandard food - as explained and written in many western blogs about Nepalese food ) the rice and dhal, if you try to attempt to climb everest on your own , by leading, I would salute you, but gentlemen, if you work like Sherap, by carrying loads, eating this normal food, I doubt whether you can continue to do so, I am sure in such condition, whether you can show all these arrogance, in such scnerio you can't even survive, so do underestimate the people and try to challenge them who are not having similar back ground like yours. 4) Three Gentlemen : try to read who first researched the existence of everest peak, who is behind this to inform to the world, and how the name came thru as Everest. If you understand that, then you can understand the fact, these people were supressed for more than 400 yrs in the region, inspite of that they are helping everyone equally and are trying to grow gradually, so the comfort which you three gentlmen have these day is just because your ancestors were able to surpress the talents here.This does neither meant to say that the people here are superior nor you are inferior, but try to understand the history, the reason behind why you are able to spend 70KUSD, and why these people are so humble, working hard for small money, as long as you can't realize that, the arrongance won't stop. Everyone is equal in the world, repsect each other, and you will all the respect that you deserve.

Nanda - 06/07/2013 11:11:42

White Man reaps what he sows. Ho hum.

Antonio Perales del Hierro - 05/30/2013 4:53:49

The best would be for everyone to make up and move on together. A fight may be a first on Everest, but if this was on the North Shore and some haole crashed a Hui Hee Nalu party and insulted everyone, of course they would expect to get beat up. Anyhow if people really do not understand how awesome and loyal the Sherpas are to us, and how sweet knowing them is, they should check out this eight minute video of how to do it right-

Rick Parker - 05/08/2013 10:43:42

Arrogance from the European helicopter people seems to be involved in their Everest summit landing a couple years back. The video they boastfully posted does show a summit landing with a crease from a skid in the summit snow. Clearly the hovering camera's peak shot above the mountain shows it was not the South Summit or South Col as their damage control later tried to claim. I think this incident establishes their lack of credibility. Check the video . The summit cairn is visible. After that stunt someone had to downplay it claiming a hoax- that it never happened- probably because Nepalese Civil Air authorities had not issued a permit. It is hard to boast when what you did is illegal and disrespectful. Video here- . Something very insulting was said by Moro that incited the Sherpas as a group. Now what might that be?. Racism as Ahnseit interprets it is hard to really define what with the genetic similarity we all share, but it is a fact that people usually climb with friends, and there are few blacks in climbing hence it is logical to conclude few people in climbing have black friends. The Sherpas are from Tibet, and westerners have had a mixed bag of forays to Tibet from David Neal to Harrer to Younghusband who killed many locals. The Han Chinese could be accused of racism against Tibetans, but still the term racism is undefined and it is up to individuals to draw their own conclusions what this actually means. Was the Tommy Caldwell Kyrgistan episode relevant? A western climbing mag wrapped him in an American flag, yet it is widely known 9/11 was a falseflag, and some have said that what happened in Kyrgistan was different from the heroic story presented. Why is it the US climbing community has never disowned the idiots who dumped plutonium on Nanda Devi? Can westerners ever see themselves for what they are? Chief Seattle wondered if they ever would. I would not expect the European climbing community to be much more sensitive to its impact on the Sherpas than the Americans or Han Chinese or Indians for that matter. It just goes with the territory when you are animated by a phony mythology I guess.

sky dancer - 05/07/2013 6:11:49

Wy Climber, what we want is for these incidents not to happen in the first place, not to provoke them. Violence is bad of course. It makes us all lose face. But you seem to view these events in a historical vacuum. Simone Moro is not a climber I would ever want to emulate. He is arrogant and foolish. Proof? He got himself all messed up on Nanga Parbat and had to call mommy for a rescue. He likes that scenario, which is par tor the course in the Alps and elsewhere, endangering the rescuers and the stupid climbers who are now sucked into situations over their heads because they can rely in rescue. Second proof of idiot Moro is how he chooses his climbs recklessly such as his climb on South Face Annapurna into obvious avalanche conditions. Moro is relying on helicopters and major corporate sponsorship to prop up his lack of skill and judgment. He dissed the Sherpas and the whole climbing community by boycotting the Basecamp meeting on fixing and went up there regardless of how the community felt. He is an arrogant idiot who will probably not last much longer in the mountains. the worst part of it is he revealed his racist feelings against the Sherpas when they called him out on his arrogance on the Lhotse Face. He vented his true feelings and he does not respect the locals. Do not pretend he is a Christian because anyone can claim that while supporting all the insane clash of civilizations wars going on today instigated by the judaeo christian mentality. The Sherpas have been long suffering hosts of all of us trekkers and climbers who think they can vent on them whenever they like. Just tell me who you think was/is funding the maoist terrorism in Nepal, the maoist government, the Chinese Maoists, the Bolsheviks, etc. You might find it is the same big money interest behind the western media and its phony heroes. Try going to Nepal and being humble. I feel sorry the Sherpas were drawn out of their pacifism but it was a string of western stupidities and arrogance that made them snap. Yes people should not snap but if you do not even consider what all they have endured the root causes of snapping will never be eliminated. People are just not that strong to endure so much bullshit.

Lieder Ahnseit - 05/07/2013 2:14:52

It is unreal that you bunch of self righteous morons are defending the sherpas. Since when is violence acceptable? If the sherpas were here in the USA would it be acceptable to try and stone or kill them just because they irritated us on a climb!! That's the difference between educated civilizations and these people barely out of the stone age! Oh but it is ok because the climbers have money so they probably deserved it? Please these people are just as despicable as all the rest of that region. They hate Caucasians with money that are Christians. These are the same people that gang raps women on buses!! Read the news and go collect your welfare check.

Wy Climber - 05/05/2013 10:39:05

Yes, that Wooly Stick is in major denial. He paints the Sherpas as the rich uncaring ones in his interview with Outside- " This time it was close, but I’m pretty sure next time people will get killed if they don’t change the system. Outside- How do you do that? Stick- "These guys make a lot of money. Of course it’s hard and dangerous work, but Sherpas are the rich people in Nepal. If you make so much money you can somehow lose reality. But it’s not just about money, and I can’t give you the answer. You have to look at how the whole system works. It’s money and fame, and there is so much bullshit that creates so many problems." Ed. note...of course it has nothing to do with his money or fame!

Lothar Schnitzl - 05/05/2013 3:06:18

When the sponsorships roll in to where you can buy a helicopter, you might feel your specialness and global popularity is so great that no further strategic consultation with the locals is necessary. A failure to communicate makes the self aggrandizements about 'respect for the locals'' particularly moot. How much better off the western demigods would have been playing ball with the locals and respecting their wishes to be undistracted on fixing day on slopes where people have slipped and died. How would you like it if the great Wooly Stick got unstuck from the ice and stuck into you instead? Of course, the great climbers NEVER make mistakes so that point too is moot. I still wanna see some western demigod hump his bodyweight from Jiri to Namche for peanuts like the localz. Why not consult with the locals before setting out during fixing day, about their feelings and concerns? Maybe Wooly Stick was showing off that heroic mechanical climbing form he is so famous for, but LOL the Sherpas know it takes Babu Chiri to sleep on top. What Everest needs is an air trafffic controller at this point and helicopter rescues at the summit on down, as soon as the oxygen or camaraderie runs out. I'd like to see the punters dropped off directly on the South Col to avoid this recurring Lhotse face problem of fighting words and yellow snow.

Lieder Ahnseit - 05/05/2013 2:19:42

Has anyone on this forum the tiniest idea what high altitude mountaineering is? Difference between commercial expeditions (a fat ass is dragged up the mountain and fed O2) vs those guys? Get informed before over-generalising and making dumb statement (the poor vs the rich)! Of course there are totally stupid western tourists on Everest but it's certainly not Steck and Moro. And as a side note: the Sherpas certainly get less than the western guides, but they are by no way ill paid and make up to 10 or 20 times what a university professor makes in Kathmandu. Think about it...

pijiu - 05/03/2013 5:52:15

Uhh...this is news to everyone? Namely, European climbers acting like self-centered, self-entitled A-holes in foreign countries? Too bad these Sherpas didnt teach em a lesson! RESPECT the culture of your host country, plain and simple. These climbers sound like real D-bags!!

The rain maker - 05/02/2013 5:34:55

i think there is a movie here i suggest ewan mcgregor,joe pesci and al pacino as the climbers.

ronnie - 05/01/2013 4:55:39

Seems the fairest account I have heard:

RPCV Nepal - 05/01/2013 3:43:04

Anyone who thinks the Sherpas are getting rich has not spent much time in Nepal. On a regular bases I feel embarrassed by western climbers when I am in Nepal. What climbers are doing for recreation Nepalis are doing for a meager living. Don't forget those mountains are theirs. Its their country and you are a guest. If you want to spend thousands of dollars to climb a mountain that's great but it doesn't mean you own it. Also I know if I were going to go fight three guys twice my size I would go in deep. Climbing mountains is awesome but its not noble, its a hobby. If you are in Nepal show some respect for people that know what hard living is all about.

Lee - 05/01/2013 2:01:44

oh you crazy nice now

Bri - 05/01/2013 12:13:12

PS - Wy Climber's post below embodies exactly the type of despicable, arrogant and childish mentality exhibited by so many 'climbers' on this mountain. The Sherpa work very hard, put their lives at risk and do so with grace and competence. If any of the climbers had even 1/2 the ugly personality of Wy Climber one can suddenly understand why they'd lose their cool and want to kill them - lol!

steve - 04/30/2013 2:39:29

Look at it this way - how many times over the last 50 yrs of Everest expeditions have Sherpa caused problems? How many times over the last 50 yrs of expeditions have the Sherpa been 'violent' towards western climbers? Yet we're supposed to believe that out of the blue they just went crazy and attacked these guys? Doesn't add up - only thing different from the 50 yrs previous is these 3 climbers presence on the mountain, NOT the presence of Sherpa.

steve usatis - 04/30/2013 2:30:40

Michael S Mays and Wy Climber wrote the type of comments that reflects very well the mentality that causes problems like these. Being able to climb a mountain does not make you the owner of the mountain. It doesn't matter how good you are: you're all just tourists there. Make sure you act accordingly with respect for the locals whether they are Sherpas or else). If you don't want to deal with them, climb in your backyard.

David - 04/30/2013 1:25:57

Agree with Jeff, there needs to be an interview of the Sherpas by a competent journalist. Only half the story is out there. This is an opportunity to dig a little deeper, try to fully understand the dynamics that resulted in this incident and make some constructive changes. Yes, there is money involved...a lot of it. Guiding on the South Col provides income for the companies involved and for the Sherpas and relatively rich clients get the experience more or less handed to them. Guiding on big mountains in developing nations is not going to go away...and, why should it? Then, there is the long and proud history of amateur alpinism; now, mostly 'sponsored' alpinism for the truly elite. And, most importantly, the cultural realities of climbing in a country different from your own. That is part of the value of the experience. The Sherpas also have a long and proud history of involvement with Everest. Let's see some good complete investigative journalism on this issue with an in-depth interview of the Sherpas. Stay on it!

Ralph Baldwin - 04/30/2013 12:43:39

I just happen to be reading "Dark Shadows Falling" by Joe Simpson of "Touching the Void" fame. When it comes to Everest no where in the world are Climbers such a disgusting, repulsive, bunch of egotistic creeps. No where else in the world would people walk over dying men a women to jumar up a mountain. Treat their Sherpa's like beasts of burden, I am surprised they haven't turned to eating them when they get snowed in they do everything else to them. I don't know what happened, but it should not be surprising if the Nepalese Sherpa's don't start leaving abandoning the clients to die up on the mountain after they have been paid.

Anthony Barboza - 04/30/2013 11:24:00

I totaly agree with Michael S Mays writings.And i want to say that Steck risced his life in the past to save other climbers (Anapurna 2008).For me that says a lot about him!

Thanasis - 04/30/2013 4:47:50

Dear All, I dont want to judge either parties here....but one thing i would like to tell everyone that even though u r perfect at something, u need to have patience when others are doing their job... For instance, although u might be a phd holders but if u dont have patience to listen to others, wht they have to say then u are called an arrogant and undisciplined think about it...even the climber might have climbed thousand miles but still they might not be familiar with the route of this particular Mt. Everest and because of this there might have been some kind of misunderstanding there...As far as i know the Sherpas are assigned there because they r the king of the Himalayas and they are familiar with the every kind of situation that the Himalayas gives to obstruct the climbers...i want to ask the climbers that why do the most famous, experience bike rider still have to have their safety measures with them? On the other side, whatever the climbers have reported has some kind of truth in it then in ma opinion, the Sherpas didnt do the right thing and has to pay for their misdeeds. Although the Sherpas are life savers, they must clarify the misunderstanding themselves rather than gathering some folks and threatening the foreigners to death. Whatever was the situation...the third party can only assume or make some kind of guess work. So there is some famous saying that when u r in Rome behave like Roman!!!

Mily - 04/29/2013 8:42:13

The way to deal with primitive violent third world toilets is to not give them your business. Quit supporting them by going there. Let them go back to selling yak dung and killing each other.

Wy Climber - 04/29/2013 8:05:16

It takes upto $100K (each climber) to climb the everest and a team of around 10 sherpas get about $5K each for three months of work. We know most of the work is done by Sherpas and the expedition of about 12-15 people completely rely on them. So only small percentage of the cost is spent on Sherpas. If that is what the climbers meant by " Deep rooted problem" then it it is also true.But we cannot forget that climbing Everest for Sherpas is a very hazardous task. They take all the risk of making the way, fixing ropes, navigating the icefalls by fixing ladders so that climbers can climb in relative ease. Yet Sherpas come and do the work because they can climb Everest only once in a season and that is their main source of income for whole year. So we can assume that Sherpas are at least wise enough not to pelt stones at some random climbers just because they walked over their ropes, in the process endangering the whole expedition i.e. their livelihood. Western Media has hyped this story too much without considering the Sherpa's side of story. Portraying Sherpas as the culprit do not do justice to the group of people who have served the climbers from all the world with smile and dedication for more than half a century. I wished journalist have uncovered the whole story before reporting like this in all the major medias of the world.

AM - 04/29/2013 6:31:20

I am sure no visitors have been stoned to death over there. And confrontations are likely to occur when there are so many people dependent on the same business. But whatever the case is, its really BS to judge all Sherpas because of the 'posting' by a climber. And if somebody wants to take their money somewhere else because of a damn one sided story, then I am sure you are not going nowhere, as there will always be something bad about other for you hipsters.

Al - 04/29/2013 4:49:00

If you have met Simone or spent any time around him some of the comments on here about 'Western climbers' seems a massive generalisation. please take a minute to think before you slate these amazing individuals who have spent their lives supporting this region of the world. there are people reading these comments who could have list friends this weekend. please bear this in mind

PH - 04/29/2013 3:52:06

I'm not an expert nor did I look into the details of the Khumbu Icefall. My impression is the Sherpa's were out doing dangerous work, the western group which has benefited from their work in the past disregarded a request, a protocol (maybe implicit) or possibly even common sense to be on the face while rope work was being done. Everest is a limited resource and the Nepalease have a basic human right to make a living in a way that is conducive to their land. Demanding rights to the mountain while putting the natives in risk (whether real or just perceived) is trashy. While I understand and agree with the concept of "real mountaineers" having the right of way, I feel even stronger about letting locals make a living without tourists (whether they are "real mountaineers" or not) getting in the way of that. It's epitome of entitled western thinking that your climb is more important than someones safety or livelihood. It's a crowded mountain and it's not getting any better, so good relations are key to keeping it open and accessible.

Glenn - 04/29/2013 2:03:47

I thought I would address this and put in my two cents here because this truly disturbs me!! Sadly we Westerners have CREATED this world of "entitlement" of both respect (which should come naturally amongst climbers) and the shit load of money that these Shepas obviously now make off of Westerners? I think somebody needs to explain to Sherpas that REAL climbers don't really need Sherpas! As far as I'm concerned, I could care less for this bullshit fixing ropes for clients and this commercial guiding that has taken over the Himalaya! Mountains were meant for REAL climbers who climb because they LOVE it, not for tourists who just want a nice "feather" in their adventure hat...or the lucky few Sherpas who are making a very good living at guiding now simply BECAUSE of Westerners!! No matter who is right or wrong here, violence has NO place on mountains! I'll take my money to Canada, Alaska and South America and elsewhere! To hell with this kind of violence and BS!!

Michael S Mays - 04/29/2013 1:37:45

sad story, taking into account the situation that by himalaistom from around the world, Nepal somehow exists ... and let's not go too far! there are always other ways to settle problems ... Unfortunately, this example clearly shows what the relationship Sherpas-the rest of the world ... sad ... I refer only to the situation ...

Peter Herman - 04/29/2013 11:49:04

The value of the story is the part that is not covered. What caused this incident? "Complicated and deep-rooted" is hardly an explanation. Clearly interviewing the Sherpas might have shed some light. Why are we not offered a more complete explanation? Shoddy reporting.

Jeff - 04/29/2013 8:49:34

how about the other way around. Why don't visitors respect the Nepal and Nepalese people. Think about it

john doe - 04/29/2013 7:43:49

NEPAL and Nepalese: Please respect to all the visitors in Nepal. And show your good Discipline and Honesty. Then they will remember you. - Solukhumbu

am Gurung - 04/29/2013 7:38:01