“It’s a miracle that we’re still alive, we're not kidding nor exaggerating either,” said Simone Moro in a recent interview with PlanetMountain.com.
Moro, along with Ueli Steck and Jonathan Griffith, was climbing up to Camp Three on Mount Everest this past Saturday when the group struck a bit of tension with their Sherpa guides.
Although the real details of the story are yet to be determined, according to the official statement posted on Moro’s and Steck’s websites, the three experienced climbers “traversed across the snow and were forced to step over the lines of the Sherpas to reach their tent...the climbers chose to step across the lines at a belay stance where four other sherpas were attached to the ice face whilst their lead climber continued to fix the line above.”
This is where the situation gets sticky, Moro admitted to BBC Asia. It was at this moment, say the climbers, that one of the Sherpas below began “shouting and banging the ice with his axe erratically,” and claims from the Sherpas illicit that one of them had been struck with ice due to the climbers’ apparently irresponsible actions.
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However, there seems to be a hole in the Sherpas’ story: “stepping over the lines does not interfere in any way with the work being carried out,” reads the climbers’ statement. “The climbers were soloing and not using ropes so there was no rope tangling either,” it reports. “In addition, by passing beneath the lead climber no ice or snow could be knocked down on him.”
Regardless of the specifics of the initial incident, when the climbers returned back down to Camp Two, nearly 100 Sherpas awaited them, yielding rocks and, as Steck told BBC Asia, even threatening to kill the three men if they did not leave the camp immediately.
“Ueli’s mouth bled due to having received a punch and having been hit by a stone,” Moro told PlanetMountain.com. “I was kicked and punched and slapped for a long time, we risked being stoned to death at Camp Two.
According to Steck and Moro’s official statement, “the Nepalese authorities have taken the matter very seriously as have commercial teams on the mountain,” and the three head Sherpas have been removed from the mountain.
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“We were the final straw that broke... the Sherpa’s patience,” says Moro, explaining that the incident must have provoked the already-exhausted guide to finally snap.
As the story continues to be untangled, though, one hopes that this unfortunate culture clash does not impact the ability for future climbers to travel from around the globe to challenge the face of the epic Everest.