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  • Everest Tragedy

    At least twelve Sherpas died on Everest in an avalanche yesterday. The Sherpas were fixing lines below camp 2 when the avalanche struck. At least three other Sherpas are missing. Other teams and Sherpas are above the area and are trying to get down. The Sherpas fix lines (rope) in the early season so that paying climbers can use them.

    A sad, sad day in Nepal.

  • #2
    Terrible. Dangerous work for sure. I bet a lot of these guys were just providing for their families.

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    • #3
      Tragic for sure. More so as they were opening the route for so many others. I had the sad memories of the monuments to the many dead along the trail hidden away till today. ++

      This is a picture I took last November of the Khumbu Icefall as it traverses under Khumbutse and through a choke point. From what I have read it came off the south aspect of this peak.


      Click image for larger version

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      • #4
        High risk environment, people are going to die, more people, more deaths. A willing labor force, high-paying customers, and constant objective hazards make for an interesting business plan...

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        • #5
          Sad indeed, but I’d like to think that life gives us the chance to choose. (There have been some interesting discussions about free will lately.) Nearly 90 people a day die in automobile accidents in the US. We pay money to buy these cars that offer the chance to be one of the 90, a pretty small number given the number of drivers. Still, that’s 90 people each day and gun deaths are about to surpass that. Things are getting better with safety improvements and regulations. That’s part of the business model. As people, we learn and adapt. We can choose to increase our chances of a longer life, dying in the easy chair, by spending more time in the easy chair, or we can be active and involved. I don’t mean that to be glib and this rationale would never begin to erase the pain of losing someone close. I choose the mountains and looking at the photo by VT, what a beautiful place.

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          • #6
            The Sherpas are there to try to tame the route for hundreds of well-to-do tourists, very few of whom could manage the climb on their own. It's a little different than going to the mountains on your own, choosing a level of risk suited to your personal connection to high places, ability and goals. None of my business to make decisions for either the Sherpas or the customers, but it does make me queasy to hear about local people dying for the benefit of outsiders who are, in some sense, paying their way to the top. As Todd Eastman says above, an interesting business plan.

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            • #7
              There are worse occupational hazards.

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              • #8
                The climbing and trekking industries have offered opportunities to the Sherpa people they would not other wise afford. Many have used the money to start their own trekking businesses, educate their kids and even move to the U.S. and New Zealand. I doubt if they would have it any other way even with the risk, which they know better than anyone what those are.
                Lets not make it sound like they are being exploited without impute from the Sherpa’s and their families.

                The American Alpine Club has started a fund for the Sherpa families here's the link to donate.
                https://americanalpineclub.org/donat...eid=8493363b59
                Last edited by CrazyMtnSkier; 20 April 2014, 09:13 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by aqua toque View Post
                  There are worse occupational hazards.
                  I'd guess setting fixed rope is right up there. Top 1% at least.

                  They should pay for life insurance benefits for the sherpas with some of the permit fees.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Matt J View Post
                    I'd guess setting fixed rope is right up there. Top 1% at least.

                    They should pay for life insurance benefits for the sherpas with some of the permit fees.
                    Based on info from someone who is there right now and has been guiding there for 25 years life insurance is already in place for sherpas:

                    "The Sherpas are covered by insurance that all operators pay as required by the government of Nepal, this amount was increased by10x for this season. It is possible the Sherpas are just concerned and just want to make sure they get all of it."

                    More info and some interesting insight on Peak Freaks website blog at http://peakfreaks8000.blogspot.ca

                    As far as dangerous jobs are concerned, the consensus seem to be that logging and deep-sea fishing are by far the most dangerous.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NoPin View Post

                      As far as dangerous jobs are concerned, the consensus seem to be that logging and deep-sea fishing are by far the most dangerous.
                      Agreed. Underwater welding used to be considered the most dangerous IIRC. I just meant that as a percent of people employed a sherpa's job would involve much more risk than the average. My experience of living in a lesser developed country makes me think that there is generally more risk to life and limb and more acceptance of that risk and the accompanying attrition in LDC's. For instance, a motorcycle courier in Mexico City would incur more risk of death by vehicular homicide in one day than your average European would find acceptable in a whole lifetime. Externalization of costs. No where would it be more obvious than in this situation. Sherpas climb unprotected to set rope to protect their clients.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Matt J View Post
                        Sherpas climb unprotected to set rope to protect their clients.
                        Granted the sherpas take the greatest risk for sure, largely due to the number of times that they pass through the dangerous zones on the mountain, such as the popcorn field, but they're not stupid and protect themselves with anchors and belays while fixing rope, then clip onto the ropes while hauling loads. They are highly-skilled mountaineers, not fools.

                        As Tim states in his blog (in the link I provided), heavy loads and tough conditions made for slow going and increased the risk. Luckily two of his guys that were hauling loads and had been held up in the traffic jam had bailed minutes before the avalanche occurred. The ropes to Camp 1 had already been fixed and the sherpas were hauling loads when the accident occurred.

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                        • #13
                          I'm certainly not critical of the Everest Sherpas, or their decisions. What makes me queasy is the wholesale climbing assault on Everest. There's mountaineering to be done around the world. Everest gets attention because it is the highest mountain on earth. The result has been a climbing experience which is expensive, crowded, and largely channeled into a prepared pathway designed to make it accessible with as little technical climbing as possible--whose preparation and maintenance puts Sherpas at risk at a scale that they do not experience in supporting other climbs.

                          As my earlier post said, the decisions of other people who go to climb Everest are their business, not mine. Though not interested in climbing Everest myself (for various reasons--money, ability, mountains closer at hand, preferring to be self-reliant, etc) I do understand the attraction. But stepping back and trying to grasp the whole picture, something has taken shape that doesn't represent what I think climbing should be--and seeing people die as part of it makes me wonder out loud.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by fogey View Post
                            <snip> something has taken shape that doesn't represent what I think climbing should be--and seeing people die as part of it makes me wonder out loud.
                            Ahhh... and therein lies the rub, eh?

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                            • #15
                              Yeah. It's my opinion; people can disagree with me. Last year I heard a long-time Himalayan guide/climber describe the state of Himalayan climbing. He said he wouldn't talk about Everest, because it was so different from any other place.

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