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Climbers, Sherpas make peace after Everest fight

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fight erupted Saturday between climbers and their guides
  • Handwritten agreement pledges no more fights on mountain
  • Climber says money, Western attitudes anger Sherpas

(CNN) -- Call it the Treaty of Everest 2013.

It's a two-paragraph agreement, in both English and Nepalese, signed by climbers and Sherpas who on Saturday engaged in a donnybrook at 23,000 feet.

Punches, kicks and even rocks were thrown, according to a statement posted Sunday on the website of one of the climbers, Simone Moro.

The Sherpas, locals who guide expeditions up the world's highest mountain, apparently became angered when the climbers from Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom did not listen to instructions from the Sherpas, moved above them on the peak and dislodged ice that fell in the direction of the Sherpas.

Sherpas, climbers clash on Mount Everest

At one point "the climbers ... were told that if they weren't gone in one hour that they would all be killed," the statement said.

But by Tuesday, both sides agreed to climb nice and put it in writing.

"Both parties have realized their errors and apologized to each other in front of those present," says handwritten note obtained by CNN from the Nepal Mountaineering Association. "Both parties agreed to help each other in the future to make successful each others goals."

The agreement bears at least 28 signatures, though some appear to have been repeated. No matter the exact number, their resolve against conflict seems certain.

"All those present agreed and committed that such activities by anyone in the mountaineering and in the tourism sector," it says.

So maybe that will end what one post on Adventure Journal's website described as "an inauspicious start to the spring climbing season on Mt. Everest."

In another post, a guide said mistakes were probably made on both sides.

"Everest is a mountain where people pour an incredible amount of passion and money into their efforts. This is true for professional and recreational climbers, and for Sherpa who earn most or all of their family's annual income in these two months on the mountain," guide Adrian Ballinger wrote.

"The constant pressure to break records, attempt new routes, and be the strongest, whether for personal pride, sponsors, future job offers, or media, can cloud the purity of our climbing here. And these pressures can lead to disagreements, arguments, and hurt feelings. But none of these pressures should be allowed to lead to violence, or to breaking the essential bonds that tie climbers to each other," Ballinger added.

But one of the climbers involved in the incident who signed the agreement told Britain's Telegraph newspaper that money has changed the Everest experience and spawned resentment among Sherpas.

"They're angry at this financial gap on their mountain," Jonathan Griffith said of the Sherpas. "These commercial trips are based on a lot of luxury and getting you up the mountain and a lot of these Western clients don't even know what the names of their Sherpas are."

And that, he says, makes him wonder if he'll try Everest again, the Telegraph reported.

"I didn't think the main danger would be a mob of Sherpas throwing rocks," Griffith is quoted as saying.

CNN's Manesh Shrestha and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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