Sherpas are built for high altitude (check out this video by Stan Lee’s superhumans on Ang Rita Sherpa).
On the way to everest base camp, we came across a bunch of sherpas carrying loads of 75-80 kgs and we were all dumbstruck on how easily they were carrying those loads, while we were having trouble walking with our light sacks. At Namche Bazaar we heard the story about how some sherpas lost their lives and we were all wondering on how the mood would be at some of the higher camps.
We met an Indian climbing group and they filled us in on the events. Apparently a group of climbing sherpas (climbing sherpas are different from guide sherpas) are always the first on everest and they lay the initial hooks, ladders and lines. This year unfortunately an avalanche hit Khumbu icefall killing around 16-17 sherpas.
The sherpa from darjeeling pointed out where the avalanche occurred and unfortunately that meant that all everest climbs for 2014 were cancelled. Infact the sherpas had threatened to cut off anyone’s legs who ignored this dictat.
That was one sad part of this trip both for the sherpas as well as the climbers (a young girl from mumbai, a police inspector from aurangabad and a climber from uttar pradesh) who had put in a lot of time and money in this venture.
Today while randomly browsing the interwebs, I came across a wsj article on the death of the sherpas, prompting this post. Have a read, its pretty good.