The Worst Tragedy on Everest - Death of 16 Sherpas on a single day - April 18, 2014



I have read with sorrow and concern, of the tragic death of 16 sherpas on Everest two days ago. Thirteen bodies have been recovered, and three persons are missing, obviously dead. Newspapers report that as many as 60 sherpas had been sent out, so early in the season to open the route to the Western Cwm and further to Everest. No expert tour guide, or any climber from the Western World, who all come on this commercial enterprise every year was with the Sherpas. The deaths therefore, are of these poor hill men, who go on these commercial enterprise every year to earn some money.

This incident raises disturbing questions. The yearly Everest climb by this route, with oxygen, tour guides and every possible assistance, has little of the 19th Century sports endeavour left in it. Those who climb with help of all these aides, the assistance of tour guides and Sherpas, even when some of them are neither trained nor fit, do so for their moment of glory, simply because they can afford the money. Therefore, we have today very large numbers, going up in crowded queues, sometime leading to fatalities, and always environmental damage.

Questions need to be answered on this tragedy. Was it correct so early in the season to push such a large number of Sherpas into the icefall with such heavy loads? Why did the tour guides and the experts stay back? Is the danger element to be faced by paid merceneries, and the glory such as it is, absorbed by those who pay for the adventure? Were the sherpas insured, if so, for how much? Is the Insurance cover for the Sherpas, the same as for the company owners / tour guides / western rich climbers? If not, Why not? All these and many more questions need to be gone into by an independent inquiry committee, suitable equipped, to find the correct answers. I call upon the Nepal Prime Minister and his Government to hold such an inquiry, immediately, and let the world know, what the answers are.

Dr. Manohar Singh Gill, M.P. (Rajya Sabha, India)
President Emeritus of the Himalayan Club
Past President of the Himalayan Club, Mumbai
and of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi
Former Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, India
Former Chief Election Commission of India