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Sherpas And The Everest Avalanche

A Sherpa boycott on Everest after a deadly avalanche. We’ll look at climbing, culture, life, death and money at the top of the world.

A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014.  (AP)

A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014. (AP)

For hundreds of climbers every year now, summiting Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest peak, is a moment of exquisite glory.  Literally a peak experience.  For hundreds of Sherpas – the locals in Nepal who lug up the gear – it’s a job.  A hard, dangerous job.  Last week, on the way up Mt. Everest, sixteen Sherpas died in a deadly ice fall.  It was a high-altitude catastrophe.  The deadliest day in modern mountaineering.  Now, the whole operation has ground to a halt.  The soul-searching on the mountainside and well beyond is deep.  This hour On Point:  a morality play at the top of the world.  Reconciling Sherpa risk and climber glory on Mt. Everest.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Breashears, mountaineer and founder and executive director of Glacier Works. (@davidbreashears)

Donatella Lorch, freelance reporter and blogger based in Katmandu, Nepal. (@tangledjourneys)

Conrad Anker, professional climber and mountaineer.Director, Khumbu Climbing Center. (@conradanker)

Peter Athans, professional climber and high-altitude mountaineering expert.

From Tom’s Reading List

National Geographic: Injured Sherpas Recall Deadly Avalanche — “Sixteen Sherpas died—all of them behind Kaji—in the deadliest single day in Everest climbing history. Two of the climbers have yet to be recovered from the ice, and the world’s most iconic mountain has again become a symbol of nature’s unforgiving power. ”

Outside Magazine: Everest Season Shutting Down? — “At Everest Base Camp after the disaster, many Sherpas met to discuss how to proceed, deciding that they didn’t want to continue the season after so many friends, colleagues, and relatives were killed. ‘[M]ost of the Sherpa climbers made decision not to climb Everest this year but then there are 1,2 companies who are being selfish  for their business purpose trying to push further more risking their Sherpa life,’ wrote Nyima Tsering, a climbing Sherpa who also runs Cafe 8848, in Namche Bazaar.”

Reuters: Nepal moves to ease tension among Sherpas after Everest disaster — “Nepal’s government decided on Wednesday to send a delegation of officials to the base camp of Mount Everest to cool anger among Sherpas over its response to last week’s deadly ice avalanche in which at least 13 guides were killed. Two Western expedition organisers said tension was running high at the camp among the roughly 400 Sherpas there, with many demanding that all climbs to the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) summit be abandoned for the rest of the season and others keen to continue.”

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