What, or who, is killing the sherpas?

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What, or who, is killing the sherpas?

Postby Wildhorse » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:45 pm

According to this thought provoking article in The Atlantic last year, about 4 percent of sherpas die every year climbing Everest. Avalanche, followed by falling, are the two largest proximate causes. But these causes are not at the heart of why so many sherpas die. It is a sad story. The sherpa deaths are caused by the increasing numbers of relatively affluent tourists who would surely die themselves climbing Everest, but don't die because the sherpas help them make it. The tourists imagine that they are adventurers and explorers. It is a delusion, and one that kills people, people with families, and not just the deluded tourists.

http://www.theatlantic.com/internationa ... st/360927/

It is not hard to see the connection between what happens on Everest and what happens on Skyline, and many other trails. Most people don't employee sherpas to climb Skyline, of course. But they rely on sherpas to come running if they get into trouble - to rescue them, to carry water to them, and to get them safely back down the mountain. Our sherpas often volunteer their services, and some of them are seeking adventure themselves through their volunteer work as much as the trail users are. They enjoy much assistance from technology that provides them a relatively low risk adventure, compared to the risk sherpas take working on Everest and the risks taken by their counterparts on other high tourist mountains.

What is happening today on mountains has lost its meaning, and sherpas and tourists dressed in hiking costumes are losing their lives for it.
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Re: What, or who, is killing the sherpas?

Postby Ed » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:14 pm

I have plenty of problems with the emphasis on climbing Everest by the South Col route, with guides, Sherpas, and oxygen, as though it was the epitome of true mountaineering. But the article seemed a little slanted to me. It is understandable that Sherpas have a higher death rate in the Khumbu Icefall, since they spend more time there, going back and forth. But do they have a higher death rate overall than the other climbers? That is far from clear to me from the statistics presented. The article had tons of statistics, but they seemed to be avoiding that one. One thing is for certain: the clients are paying to take the danger, the Sherpas are being paid to take it. Climbing in the mountains of central Asia is simply dangerous, period. During my relatively short climbing life, I met two people who died on Everest, three of four who died on Dunagiri in Kashmir, one of two who died on Noshaq in Afghanistan, and one who died on Nanda Devi in India.

Here is what I consider to be a great climb. I was once drying off in the locker room at UC Riverside, after a swim. A few yards away was an older man with crew-cut gray hair doing the same. I noticed that he had no toes, the front ends of his feet were brick red, with bumps where there should have been toes. Rather awkwardly, I started up a conversation by saying 'I take it you've done some mountaineering.'

His name was Dave Harrah, he was a professor in the Philosophy Department whose field was esoteric logic, whatever that is. He lost his toes making the first ascent of Yerupaja, the second highest mountain in Peru, in 1950. The group consisted of students from Harvard and Stanford, Dave was one of the two from Stanford, and one of the two who made it to the summit. I looked up Yerupaja on the web a few years ago, the write-up said it is still little climbed because it is so difficult and dangerous. Not only was it a first ascent, where you can never be sure of what the route ahead will be like, back in 1950 they had absolutely no backup whatsoever. Zero.
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Re: What, or who, is killing the sherpas?

Postby Wildhorse » Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:13 pm

Ed, it was a great climb indeed that you described. I am glad to have my toes, but such a climb is really a grand thing to do.

I read a review of a new movie about Everest climbers. It seems that the delorable state of Everest climbing is getting a lot of attention.

It seems like the problems are related, even if not the same, from Maine to California to Nepal.
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Re: What, or who, is killing the sherpas?

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun Sep 20, 2015 10:00 pm

Wildhorse wrote:It seems like the problems are related, even if not the same, from Maine to California to Nepal.

Maybe Scott Jurek will make an Everest attempt? I'm OK with it as long as he doesn't bring Champagne... ;)

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Re: What, or who, is killing the sherpas?

Postby Wildhorse » Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:20 am

That would be a feat, for sure, running up Everest.

Here is another interesting article about Everest. It mentions a medical entrepreneur who operates an emergency room at base camp. The new Everest movie will probably be great for her business.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/21/health/ev ... ical-care/

With permission of the BLM or the Tribe, maybe someone could open an ER on Skyline. That would enable even more people to feel safe making the climb.

The new Everest movie might increase traffic on Skyline too. Isn't it just wonderful how much promotion mountain climbing is getting these days? And with ever more available rescue services, anyone can give it a try. Tram or sherpa, what's the difference really? They both empower so many people to climb the highest peaks. And surely all this adventure tourism, or, excuse me, mountain climbing, promotes care for nature too, and will help save the planet.
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