My first hate mail – which I thought I’d posted previously but just found in my ‘saved’ folder.
Obviously it’s very difficult to be impartial when you’re involved in the expedition business and looking for a favourable outcome – but I have tried my hardest. And without disregarding the tragedy I am trying to report the situation and events ‘post accident’. Admittedly post accident issues have arisen as a result of the accident, but no one could foresee where it was going until it was way too late (and it pretty much all happened in a week).
I’m not trying to disregard the tragedy or gloss over the terrible loss. Indeed I knew a couple of the Sherpas who died and am deeply saddened by their loss and the loss and suffering their families are enduring.
What I find particularly saddening is that in the aftermath Sherpa has turned on Sherpa, sides have been taken and threats, ominous, insidious, threats have been used to force those who want to work to accede to the will of those who don’t, or who would use the tragic circumstances to their own political ends.
Anyway back to the rant I received … apparently The Sherpas wouldn’t need the climbers, mountaineers and trekkers to sponsor their children if the Sherpas were able to directly negotiate with the government. Which is, of course, absolute tosh. There is no social welfare system. Without peak permit fees and tourism there wouldn’t be a pot of money. And The Sherpas wouldn’t have a job. In which case they would be even more reliant on the sponsorship that they receive. Except there wouldn’t be any one here to meet them, engage with them and give generously – not out of guilt or misguided loyalty but as a gesture from one human being who realises how lucky they are to another human being or family who has made an impression. It’s not some sort of post British empire guilt trip.
Ah, stuff it, here’s the letter in entirety. I hope it provides you with as much joy as it did me!
“I’ve read a few of your blog posts and saw the interview on the BBC.
It baffles me how the climbing community doesn’t understand why politicization is part of things.
16 bodies, no matter from where, are worth more than your conquer and divide British pounds. You sound like a descendent of Thatcher.
Let them have the year. Maybe English people – so well known for lack of feeling – only need 4 days to grieve, but others need a lot longer.
You’re turning lives into a business deal.
Go home. If the Sherpas could negotiate directly with their government they might not “need’ you to sponsor their children and pay school fees.
The world doesn’t need Great Britain’s charity. Most of us are still trying to pick up the pieces from all the wars, bloodshed and problems that the English have caused. The politeness doesn’t fool anyone. The Sherpas need to work as a unit at this time. And you need to clear the way to do so. It’s not about you or your ego to summit again.
There are 3 communities that disgust me in India, Nepal and environ.
1. The drug addicts
2. The enlightenment-in-a-weekend seekers
3. The climbers. Who as those who in the supposed benign imposition think they hurt no one, are starting to cause the greatest hurt of all.
Shame on you and your company. I would banish you for the rest of this lifetime.
So, dear readers, there it is. We’re all guilty for being born where we’ve been born and therefore by association are guilty for all the horrible things our ancestors did. Any amends that we might be making in the present day aren’t acts of generosity but acts of penitence.
And for the record I wasn’t suggesting that 4 days after the serac fall that we ought to be back on the mountain. I don’t know what timescale would have been acceptable because different people grieve in different ways and need different amounts of time.
But having chatted on the trek out with lodge owners and Sherpa friends and families they all agree that the outcome is really bad for the region for this season and possibly years to come.
So, yes, I’m going home but not in shame.