Like many of you Couch Adventurers, I've long harbored dreams of climbing Mt. Everest. These dreams were spurred by reading Into Thin Air—a book about a bunch of climbers who were killed in 1996 while trying to climb the mountain—as a kid, which should tell you something about my mental state at the time, but now I've had to put those thoughts away because A.) Everest seems like a really easy way to die, and B.) It's too fucking crowded there now.
The appeal of Everest is simple: When you climb it, you're forever the badass who climbed Everest. You're also a part of a select group of only 4,000 people. The downside is that this urge to climb is a relatively common one, and it's attractive to many novice climbers who want to try to reach the peak without putting in the years of training and experience that you need to do so. Their inexperience has crowded up the lanes, creating dangerous traffic jams thousands of feet in the air. Four people died last year in one. It's pretty insane.
This weekend, at the 24,000-feet mark, three European men and a group of Sherpas fought it out in a violent struggle possibly spurred by the unmanageability of 32 expeditions on the mountain. Witnesses say that Italian, British, and Swiss climbers ignored requests from Sherpas to not touch ropes being laid down by the Sherpa guides. The Sherpas got pissed.
From the Atlantic Wire:
The Europeans saw it differently, saying one of the Sherpas rappelled down on top of the Swiss climber, "who raised his hands above his head to protect himself. This prompted the lead climber to accuse Ueli Steck of 'touching him.'" The Sherpa then reportedly turned on the climber, swinging his ice axe in anger and threatening to hurt other climbers as well.
When the climbers all returned to base camp, a gang of around 100 Sherpas reportedly pelted the foreigners' tents with rocks, forcing them outside, where the locals attempted to beat and kick them. The men say that if another group of Westerners hadn't intervened to break up the fight, they might have been killed.
(Totally unrelated, but kind of crazy: There are still hundreds of corpses that have never been cleared off Everest. Many are very visible while you're climbing the mountain. Green Boots is the nickname of one unlikely guy. Anyway, let me know if you ever see him.)
[H/T: Atlantic Wire]