Everything went to hell after the avalanche on Everest! There was a small group of Sherpas that used this tragedy as an opportunity to make demands from the government unfortunately this was the wrong way to handle things as now we are all screwed! These Sherpas mobilized a lot of other Sherpas to essentially go on strike and abandon their expeditions. Phil Crampton (our expedition leader) and Russel Brice took a helicopter to Kathmandu to talk directly to government officials to try to get the Sherpas their demands met so the climbing season would be saved. This way we could climb, the Sherpas could get what they want and not be hurt financially. The government said to Phil and Russel that they would agree to all demands and would make sure the climbing season would continue.
When the government officials showed up at base camp they basically told the Sherpas they were with them. No Sherpas on the mountains as they wanted and that they would discuss their requests after the climbing season. Then in English they told us they were with us! They were supporting us!…now let me translate what this meant! The government completely lied to Russel and Phil! They did not meet the demands of the Sherpas at all! They will probably not give them anything they want. The government has officially kept the mountain open. Why? Because they know nobody can climb now without the Sherpas fixing ropes and also because some Sherpas have threatened some westerners that if they did not leave within 7 days there’d be trouble! By stating that the mountain is open the government wants to avoid having to explain why they are not giving back any of the $10,000 dollar permits each of us paid. As far a they are concerned we are free to climb! The Sherpas are getting screwed once again by the government who will probably do nothing for them. The strategy of the small group of Sherpas who got this movement going now got us climbers screwed having paid millions of dollars to the Nepal economy as well as directly to the Sherpa community while having no chance to climb. They have screwed other Sherpas now because many of them wanted to continue to work and earn their living. Remember that these climbing Sherpas make 10 times more in one climbing season than the average ANNUAL income for Nepalis. Sherpas will probably hurt next years as business could be down from western companies not trusting they can do business safely in Nepal. Now the families of the dead are most likely guaranteed they will not get assistance from the government! Luckily assistance is coming from 1st world countries and organizations like the American Alpine club and many others.
The small group of Sherpas that mobilized the masses screwed the other Sherpas, themselves and us. The government screwed everyone!
Everybody loses! This is a total mess!
The mountain may be officially open but everyone has to leave now, not just because there is no Sherpa support but because if anyone tries to climb they can be threatened (foreign or Sherpa both).
Climbers are all moving out of base camp quickly. Most climbers are out now. Sherpas and guides are still there tearing down base camp and organizing porters to move the tons of gear down the mountain (including all of our personal gear. We hiked and flew with just a medium sized backpack full).
Many Sherpas, like our team are very hard working, professional, loyal and great wonderful people. These other Sherpas (many of them of the younger generation with a heavy Maoist influence) are unfortunately giving all Sherpas a bad name and handled things in a very distructive way.
Who is to blame for this human tragedy having turned into this political and financial mess? I think it’s a result of people handling a tragedy in a very emotional, irrational way. Acting without thinking things through. Mob mentality is also to blame. Religion and superstition as always also bring their destructive contribution! In this case the belief that the mountain gods were angry and made the mountain dangerous did not help. Then the high lama at Tiangboche monastery makes a typical statement of religious leaders claiming to know things they cannot possible know! He said: “there will be more deaths on the mountain this season!” Unfortunately the Sherpas are very religious people! Why do they listen to this man say something he cannot possibly know? Because of faith, because it’s so much easier to have faith than to think rationally and on your own. Why did they listen to these other Sherpas and became a mob that forced all Sherpas to abandon the climb? Because those leaders said things that felt right! Because they were not thinking rationally, intelligently into the future, realizing this was going to hurt them more than help them.
Complicating all of this is a very corrupt government that doesn’t give a damn about the small Sherpa population in their country. They are happy dispatching BS everywhere and keeping millions of dollars received in permits for their personal benefit. They don’t seem to grasp or care that this will hurt Nepali’s tourism, economy and the Sherpa.
Some of the Sherpas turning against westerners is just absurd. It was the fact that we have to pay for Sherpas rescue insurance that made it possible for helicopters to rescue survivors from he avalanche. It is some of the guiding companies who are giving money directly to the families of the dead.
Of course not all westerners treat Sherpas as good as we do or take care of them as Phil’s company does. But all of them bring income directly to the Sherpa community paying wages, using tea houses on the trek, buying food and paying like we did for internet ($10 per hour, which is a lot of money in Nepal!) or for charging electronics (also about $10 per hour on some of the highest lodges). These are just a few examples of many ways we contribute to their economy. All the tons of gear at base camp has to be brought there on foot and with yaks. All of this gets paid in cash. All of this plus the thousands of Trekkers contribute to be the main source of income of the Sherpa community today. All of this may suffer because of how badly things were handled!
Like I said on my interview with Discovery channel at base camp.
If us abandoning our Everest expedition, my lifelong dream, would somehow help the families of the dead, I would feel a lot better about this. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s helping at all. I think it’s going to hurt them in the long run! How absurd is all this!!
Like I said before, the most tragic part of this is the death of the poor Sherpas that were on the mountain doing their job and the pain they leave behind with their loved ones.
That’s the most serious thing that happened on the mountain. The rest is now a very complicated and messy thing that is hurting everyone and will continue to hurt many people in Nepal unless pressure can be put on the Nepali government to start having some resemblance of decency and care for their citizens and some integrity when dealing with foreigners.
Also I hope the Sherpa community can find a better way to handle things so they won’t hurt themselves so badly.
I am very disappointed and frustrated on how things played out. At the same time I am very glad to be alive. If we would have left an hour or two earlier we could have been all killed in the avalanche. I realize the immense fortune I have to be alive, to live a great quality of life in a country where the government doesn’t screw its people in such a blatant and disgusting way. The US government can be blamed of many things but it does give citizens like me the opportunity to make a living as a musician and a mountain guide with very good and safe living conditions.
I am very lucky to have been born where I was born, to a family like mine. I am fortunate to have the opportunities and quality of life that I have.
Yes, now I have to pay a $25,000 dollar debt for a climb I never had the chance to make. That is a lot of mon
(Message cut by power cut in Kathmandu)