Everest – A Tragic Circus

It´s been a bad year on Everest, so far the worst since 1996, the year of the big storm which killed 8 and resulted in numerous books and countless pages of Internet forums debating the pros and cons of commercial high altitude expeditions. 15 people died in 1996, the worst year ever. The main window of opportunity for summiting the highest mountain in the world is relatively small. For around 3 weeks in May the harsh weather patterns usually abate just enough to tempt. In that time it is now usual for several hundred people to succeed in their ambition and stand on the top of the world. However not since 1977 has a year passed without anybody dying on the mountain – and then only two South Koreans succeeded in topping out.Over the last couple of weeks 11 people have not made it back alive: 3 Sherpas who died in a serac fall, Dawa Temba, Phinzo and Lakpa Tsherri, Tomas Olsson, a Swedish skier attempting to ski the Norton Couloir after successfully summiting, 54 year old Igor Plyushkin from Russia, Brazilian Vitor Negrete who had almost quit in his attempt to summit after finding their camp 2 store tent vandalised and emptied, Jacque, a Frenchman attempting the mountain with his wife, German Thomas Weber, 38 year old Czech climber Pavel Kalny, David Sharp from Teesside, and Australia´s Lincoln Hall – in actual fact it turns out that having been abandoned on the mountain and presumed dead, Lincoln spent the night out above 8,000m and has been found today, alive, but in a bad way.These last two have caused a stir amongst not only the climbing and mountaineering media, but the world´s press too. The fact that Lincoln Hall´s body was left for dead is not a new scenario on such expeditions, but nevertheless perplexing. Meanwhile Sir Edmund Hillary has stepped into the storm surrounding David Sharp. It appears that as David lay dying in the snow around 40 people passed him on their way up or down the mountain. Whether any of these climbers stopped to help or even offer words of solace is unclear, but no rescue was attempted, a concept alien to the likes of Hillary. Mountaineer and photographer Ian Parnell has joined the debate over on the UKClimbing forums, citing examples of such rescue attempts during his 2 months on Everest last year with Jagged Globe. Ian was along to photograph Sir Ranulph Fiennes in his high profile expedition, and, in addition to successfully summiting, was also part of a rescue attempt coordinated by his expedition leaders Jagged Globe. Tom Briggs, marketing manager for Jagged Globe has voiced concerns (in previous years as well as in the current debate) over the mal-practice of many of the smaller outfitters operating on Everest. On top of all of this Kenton Cool, who this year became the UK´s most successful Everesteer in history with three summits in as many years, has gone on the record in the Observer to say that “A lot of people should not really be here. I ask myself, are they really mountaineers? Do they love the mountains? They keep to themselves and are not interested in the Sherpas and sitting and drinking beer with them. They are more interested in keeping up their websites.” Other snippets of news, which are regularly sprayed from the numerous Everest websites, include that of 15 year old Christopher Harris from Australia who was evacuated from the mountain. Christopher was climbing with his father. When Tomas Olsson disappeared during his ski descent of the Norton Couloir the Chinese were not only unable to provide a helicopter to look for Tomas, but refused access across their air space to the Nepalis who have a proven track record of high altitude rescues. The Chinese have come under fire for their attitude to the whole business of Everest expeditions. Base Camp on the Chinese / Tibetan side of the mountain reputedly has a bar and a mobile brothel! Most recently is a story of a Sherpa who stripped naked and stood for 3 minutes on the summit. It appears clearer than ever that Everest has become a circus and that stricter regulation is in order, allowing reputable and competent outfitters to operate, whilst weeding out the incompetents and the pirates who encourage unfit and irresponsible people to ´go for it´ in their quest to stand on top of the world. Sources: Everest News BBC UKClimbing Please note that despite living in a world where satellite phones and laptops are plentiful, mis-reporting and hearsay are still very common. We apologise if any of the above falls into these categories, but feel that the overall principles at stake are still important. ———————————————————————– If you have any news worth reporting please contact Matt – matt@planetfear.com / 0114 2969114 ———————————————————————–