Cooler heads have prevailed on Everest, it would seem, in the wake of Saturday's high elevation argument that turned violent. To jog your memory, a fight broke out on between the team of Western alpinists Simone Moro, Ueli Steck and Jon Griffith and a group of Sherpas following a heated exchange on the Lhotse Face. The three climbers angered the Sherpas, who were fixing lines between Camps 2 and 3, when they crossed their line and, at one point crossed their line, allegedly dislodging ice that struck one of the Sherpas. The two groups engaged in a fight later at Camp 2 in which Moro, Steck and Griffith were badly outnumbered.
The Nepal Mountaineering Association released a two-paragraph, handwritten agreement that signed by both the climbers and Sherpas involved in the fight. In both English and Nepalese, it reads:
Today, on 2070 Bhaishak 16 (April 29, 2013) at Everest base camp at SPCC office, with the presence of the Chief of Nepal Army team leader, Major Sunilsingh Rathor and the following attended personnels agreed to do the following decisions regarding the arguments between the two groups on April 27 while fixing ropes between camp 2 & camp 3.
1. On April 27 2013, above Everest Base Camp, at Camp 2 and Camp 3 an agreement arose between foreign climbers and Nepali climbers and the situation was discussed today at this meeting. Both parties have realized their errors and apologized to each other in front of those present. Furthermore, both parties agreed to help each other in the future to make successful each others goals. It has also been decided that this issue will not be raised again.
2. All those present agreed and committed that such activities must never be repeated by anyone in mountaineering and in the tourism sector. If any party is dissatisfied with the actions of another party, they commit not to go into conflict or use violence against the other party. Instead they commit to report the actions to the government representatives or releventent government recognized association present at the base camps, to come to an amicable solution between the parties.
A copy of the letter (save for three pages of signatures) is here:
Nevertheless, two of the climbers involved, Swiss national Ueli Steck and British mountaineering photgrapher Jon Griffith, have left Everest Base Camp via helicopter. As for Italian mountaineer Simone Moro, he hopes to stay on the mountain to fly his rescue helicopter for the remainder of the season.
In our earliert report on the fight, we quoted SImone Moro's account of that day's events. Today, however, Alan Arnette has posted an email from Garrett Madison, lead guide for Alpine Ascents, that attempts to tell the Sherpas' side of the story. It reads, in part:
As this story has emerged in the media it has become clear that the Sherpas have not been given a voice. The press releases, the blogging, and reports from the European climbers have dominated the headlines. Meanwhile the Sherpa are quietly continuing to fix the rope and continue their work at nearly 8000 meters on Everest. These Sherpa help realize the dream of many western climbers and will continue to be honored and respected by the foreign climbers who climb with them on Everest.
I have pieced together an objective version of events different from what is currently in the media headlines. These details are directly from what I heard on the radio on April 27th, my discussions with many people in base camp over the last 2 days including expedition leaders, western guides, and clients who were at Camp 2 during this incident, and Sirdars (head Sherpa) who directly supervise the fixing team.
The account, which suggests the fight was instigated by Moro but blames both climbers and Sherpas for letting it escalate into violent conflict, is an interesting read that represents an as-yet unheard viewpoint. Click through to Alan Arnette's site to read the full text, and to read the lively discussion that's happening in the comments section below.