Last night I read the news on the BBC’s website, and woke up to it on the cover of Nepal’s newspapers: 15 Sherpas dead in an avalanche on Everest, the most people to die there in a single accident, ever. I scanned the names in the paper, looking for any I knew; I didn’t find any, and felt relief and then guilt for being relieved. Those who died were all hard-working men with families at home waiting for them. Dawa Tashi Sherpa, the survivor airlifted to Kathmandu, has his wife — five months pregnant with their first child — waiting in the hospital to see him, and for her joy there are at least 15 families who will never see their loved ones again.
In the days to come the old topics will probably be rehashed: overcrowding on the mountain, and over reliance on Sherpas in the all-important task of rope fixing. But I hope this doesn’t overshadow the memory of these men, most of whom were not climbing for adventure or glory, but to provide for their loved ones. May they rest in peace.
The Himalayan Times and Kathmandu Post newspapers for April 19, 2014. The discrepancy in the number of the dead is due to The Himalayan Times counting only the bodies that had been retrieved to date, while The Kathmandu Post included those still buried in the snow, not yet dug out.