Ueli Steck, Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith’s NO2 Limits Expedition on Mount Everest via a different route has come to an abrupt end due to an unexpected attack on the three which nearly cost them their lives. The attack occurred over the weekend on April 27, 2013.
As expected, many different stories have developed on what occurred and what caused up to 100 Sherpas to attack Steck, Moro and Griffith. According to a press release on Monday, April 29, a team of high altitude Sherpa were fixing the Lhotse face and the trio were asked not to touch the fixed ropes that were being established by the Sherpa. Respecting the wishes of the Sherpa, the trio climbed about 50 meters away and to the side of the Sherpa team to avoid disturbing their work. At one point Griffith, Moro and Steck traversed across the snow and were forced to step over the lines at a belay stance where four other Sherpa were attached to the ice face as their lead climber continued to fix the line above. This did not interfere with the work of the Sherpa. Since the climbers were soloing, there were no ropes that could’ve been tangled with the work done by the Sherpa. The lead climber fixing the rope noticed Steck, Griffith and Moro as they were stepping over the lines, and this was the beginning of a frightening experience for the climbing trio as the lead climber rappelled right down to Ueli Steck and began hitting the ice forcefully and shouting accusations at Steck.
Steck tried calming the situation by offering to fix lines up to Camp 3 but it unfortunately made matters worse. The lead Sherpa ordered his whole team of 17 off the Lhotse face and back to Camp 2 which was unnecessary as none of their work was touched by Steck, Moro and Griffith. Hoping to smooth things over, Steck and Moro fixed another 260 meters of rope to Camp 3.
When Steck, Moro and Griffith descended back to Camp 2, a large group of Sherpa were waiting for them and began aggressively kicking, punching and throwing stones at them. As stated by Simone Moro in a brief interview with Planetmountain.com, “We owe our lives mainly to 4 people. The first and most important is American climber Melissa Arnot. Then a Sherpa named Pan Nuru. Then an American guide named Greg who belongs to the IMG expedition.” These individuals acted as a buffer between the angry mob and the climbers.
The actual reason why the attack occurred is being investigated. There will be no legal action taken against the Sherpa by Steck, Moro and Griffith. The trio has since met with those that attacked them and will be leaving the disciplinary action in the hands of the community.
This experience has left many questions, several in shock and three climbers physically and emotionally damaged. For Ueli Steck, he has no plans to return to the Himalayas. Moro plans to continue flying his helicopter and carry out rescue operations to the Sherpa for no charge. As for rules on climbing Mount Everest, it is almost certain there will be some changes in the near future.
Please visit swissinfo.ch to view Ueli Steck’s interview with Billi Bierling. You can find an interview with Simone Moro at Planetmountain.com, and a letter from Jon Griffith on UKClimbing.com.
Please click on Subscribe at the top of the page to receive E-mail notifications for future articles by this author. Also join my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter.