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Bad news from Everest

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Bad news from Everest

Postby sierraguy » Mon May 21, 2012 6:32 pm

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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Diego Sahagún » Mon May 21, 2012 7:24 pm

Mount Everest: three fatal accidents confirmed - http://www.explorersweb.com/everest_k2/ ... p?id=20860 :cry:

http://www.paul-thelen.de/blog.html (in German)
Last edited by Diego Sahagún on Mon May 21, 2012 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Cy Kaicener » Mon May 21, 2012 7:27 pm

Eight fatalities so far. SPer Alan Arnette has been tracking Everest almost hourly
http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2012/05 ... 0-summits/

Other Himalayan news
http://theadventureblog.blogspot.com/20 ... -note.html
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Hotoven » Tue May 22, 2012 3:04 pm

Here's yahoo's take on it. Some of the comments are disturbing.

http://news.yahoo.com/everest-weekend-death-toll-reaches-4-040701481.html
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby sharperblue » Tue May 22, 2012 4:38 pm

Everything that is wrong about this, and everything that needs to be said, can be summarized with one single photo. Here it is:

http://boingboing.net/wp-content/upload ... _line.jpeg
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Cy Kaicener » Tue May 22, 2012 5:26 pm

The six has now become eleven - RIP -- Condolences to the families
http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2012/05 ... tal-to-11/
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Marmaduke » Tue May 22, 2012 5:52 pm

sharperblue wrote:Everything that is wrong about this, and everything that needs to be said, can be summarized with one single photo. Here it is:

http://boingboing.net/wp-content/upload ... _line.jpeg


When do the guide companies start taking some of the responsibility in this? They should be less concerned with the amount of cash they make and the total successful summits and be more concerned with the least amount of fatalities.
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Diego Sahagún » Tue May 22, 2012 5:55 pm

Mt Everest death toll rises to four in Nepal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18156304
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby sharperblue » Tue May 22, 2012 9:55 pm

Marmaduke wrote:
sharperblue wrote:Everything that is wrong about this, and everything that needs to be said, can be summarized with one single photo. Here it is:

http://boingboing.net/wp-content/upload ... _line.jpeg


When do the guide companies start taking some of the responsibility in this? They should be less concerned with the amount of cash they make and the total successful summits and be more concerned with the least amount of fatalities.


In a perfect world...

Part of the issue is accountability; the companies would be forced to be more responsible towards and selective with their clientele if there were legal enforcement structures in place (I can't believe I'm saying this; holy sh*t..) No, I don't think you should be able to sue the City because you tripped down the stairs and landed in the wood chipper parked at the base, but here's my own mini-anecdote, complete with incomplete information and lots of unfair judgement:

Came across two guys in a guiding service's office a few years ago; they were putting on double plastic boots for the first time. First guy: "Hey! These already have the crampons bolted to the boots!" Second guy: "That's cool. All good technical boots come that way." Needless to say, there was no irony intended in their remarks. (the crampons were literally screwed onto the bottoms of olde Scarpas)Their intended route was the Ferrari on Alpamayo (a D grade technical ice climb on a 19,000 foot peak). Now, I'm sure the guides were thinking: "Look, we'll outfit these bozos, take them up to the base of the peak, and they'll freak out and back off and we get to come home early, just like they always do." Maybe, and maybe not. And then..

Later that same trip, we ran into those two (still alive somehow) - and they were guiding. They had "qualified" as guides with one of the many less reputable companies in those parts because they had walked up Ishinca (a cush 5500m walk-up by the normal route) a few weeks prior, and were now being paid to take four or six people up that same route. I try not to rush to conclusions, but just in speaking to these guys, my companions and I (all terror-stricken cowards with nothing to our own credit) could only exchange amazed side-long glances of fear and amazement to each other at the endless macho blather coming out of their mouths.

Should they or their sponsoring companies be held liable for gross negligence if one of their clients is injured or killed? Is "buyer-beware" enough of a warning for people who have no idea what they're getting into? And does the nation in which the accident occurred have legal reciprocity/recourse with foreign nationals? What a mess, and no one wins. From the guide's point of view on Everest: can you even begin to imagine telling some corporate executive what to do after they've shelled out 20-60k to go up there? Yeah, good luck with that!
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby radson » Tue May 22, 2012 11:32 pm

From what I can gather none of the deaths have been from those climbing with 'guiding' companies.
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Damien Gildea » Tue May 22, 2012 11:39 pm

sharperblue wrote:... can you even begin to imagine telling some corporate executive what to do after they've shelled out 20-60k to go up there? Yeah, good luck with that!


Nowadays I don't think that is the problem. It's the stereotype of the problem, and might still happen occasionally, but it's not really the critical situation on Everest nowadays (or other high-end guided trips). Remembering of course that I have not been to Everest, so have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about and should not even dare to have an opinion, so I'm told.

The crowds are a problem, yes, but the big guiding companies are only part of that. The image circulating around the net right now, taken by Ralf Dujmovits, of the queue above C3, does NOT contain climbers from many (yes, some) of the big guided groups - it contains everyone else. There are just a LOT of people there right now, $60K-payers or not. And you need to remember that a bunch of those people in line are Sherpas, because most of those hundreds of people on Everest would not get past C1 without considerable Sherpa support, in the form of rope-fixing, load carrying and oxygen transport. As the skill level of climbers comes down, the Sherpa numbers need to go up. Great, if you're a Sherpa!

From what I've seen of these types of $60K clients, in Antarctica - on Vinson and the Pole, sharing personnel with the Everest/7S circuit - and on popular mountains elsewhere, is that the $60K exec is actually pretty trusting of his expensive western guide and will do what he says. They're smart people, even if they're assholes, or not (most are nice). He (and it's almost always a he) is used to risk and failure and hiring people outside of his expertise. So lay off Donald Trump, OK? :D These people also have the funds to fail and try again next year, as they often do. It's the people who bank everything on a budget operator and 'need' to succeed, who can't afford to fail, that are a worry.

I hate to say this, and I had to re-think the same way for Denali, after climbing it years ago, but the 'problem' is either certain unguided - but incompetent and inexperienced - climbers or, in the case of Everest, 'climbers' on budget trips with no guide and minimal Sherpa support. Skimping on 'luxury' / security is fine, I do it voluntarily, but the people doing it nowadays are people who do not have the experience or skill to do it, and don't know, or care, when they are in over their heads. But the budget companies in KTM still take their money, and those companies have increased their numbers in recent years. It's not just Asian Trekking and Monterosa any more. I remember on Denali seeing clusters of guided clients from one of the famous companies, who were woefully unskilled and out of their depth, but they were being looked after. The climbers that caused the most concern were the equally incompetent and inexperienced unguided people, who should have had a guide. These people seem to be increasing in number (though maybe not on Denali, fwiw). Sure, America is the land of the free, we're free to kill ourselves if we/you want, but don't take others with you when they're forced to try and rescue you.

I've never been a client on a guided expedition, so normally I'm strongly - some would say too strongly - in favour of going unguided and anti-masscommercial guiding. Just to be clear - I believe it's better to start small, build your skill, get your own experience, don't buy short-cuts and go as high, or as hard, as you can under your own steam. Don't endanger others and truly own your successes. But increasingly people do not want to do this. If they are ambitious for Everest, but woefully inexperienced, they should hire the best guide service they can. Not try and wing it on the cheap by following the crowds, believing in safety in numbers. You are David Sharp. It is these people, not the Mr. $60K, who are found slumped in the snow, screaming at their Sherpas to keep going.

In the end of course, people will do what they want, no matter how stupid. They are mostly free to do so, and mostly that's a good thing. I'm not in favour of more regulation, on any mountain anywhere. I've spent too much time organising my own expeditions and negotiating red-tape to want that. As I've ranted before, my main concern nowadays is not how stupid people choose to hurt themselves and waste money, but how their actions affect the rest of us who choose to stay the f#@% away from Everest (or AmaDablam, or ChoOyu etc). When this Everest shit hits the media it increasingly leads to the mainstream public seeing 'climbing' through the filter of this Everest circus, and they judge, and act, accordingly. They are legislators, insurers, journalists, friends. Ramifications of Everest events bleed out into the wider expedition community, affecting access, logistics, peak fees, regulation and local cultures. People might say "Just stay away then Damo you wanker", and I do, but it's not that simple. A knee-jerk on Everest hurts climbers in Mugu. To me, that is the problem.
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby Marmaduke » Tue May 22, 2012 11:45 pm

radson wrote:From what I can gather none of the deaths have been from those climbing with 'guiding' companies.


But because of the sheer numbers and the massive log jams, what are the percentages of guided climbers and non? The people who died could have been some very skilled climbers. But if there are people in large numbers that are with guides and because their reasons for being there are different than the dedicated climber and the skill level and their training is likely different. I think you can still look to the guide companies as contributing to this problem.
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby radson » Tue May 22, 2012 11:58 pm

I am not sure Marmaduke, Alan Arnette would be the best person to ask about the relative numbers. I was under the impression that the only guided groups in the 'first wave' were Adventure Consultants and AAI. Maybe IMG was there as well. The picture is taken of Camp 3 to Camp 4 which is a fairly 'easy' day. Leaving at 8ish perhaps and arriving at the South Col just after noon.

From the South Col, I believe the guided groups had a staggered departure schedule to help mitigate crowding. I have the utmost respect for guides such as Mike Roberts and Dave Hahn etc, they have been there so long and have this dialed in so well and there is great co-operation amongst the guided teams. As per what Damien is saying, I suspect but have no way of knowing for sure but only a small proportion of those in the pic would be 'guided clients' I'm thinking maximum 20. Just a guess mind you.
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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby radson » Wed May 23, 2012 12:25 am

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Re: Bad news from Everest

Postby sharperblue » Wed May 23, 2012 12:39 am

That's a solid perspective, Damien - and you're right. It's just so easy to look at those marching army ants photos or at the show at base and make sweeping judgements; I have no idea who those people are, just that photos with so many people on such a mountain (or any mountain) convey a sense that "something is very wrong with this picture", and we want it not to be that way.
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