I remember reading about this, but for some reason didn't blog it. In fact, I don't think it received much attention in the outdoor blogosphere at all when it happened in September. Just another tragedy, among many, in the Himalayas this year. It would have receded in my own memory had I not glanced at the Nov/Dec issue of Focus, the World Wildlife Federation's (WWF) monthly newsletter. I didn't know this, but 7 of the 24 people who died in the helicopter crash were from the WWF, the single greatest loss of life in the WWF's 45-year history. They were returning from a ceremony in which Nepal's government had handed the managment of a national park to the local community, something the WWF had played a large role in achieving. In the words of the WWF's Director General, "The colleagues we have lost had dedicated their lives to conserving the extraordinary natural resources of Nepal and of the Earth. Their deaths are a huge blow to conservation efforts in Nepal and worldwide." Peace.
MountEverest.net has been able to interview two climbers that were recently on Ama and they stated that a huge serac overhanging C3 and over-crowding on the route were big concerns for climbers. Polish climber Artur Hajzer had this to say:
“During my stay there [in C3] we debated whether that serac was stable or not,” Artur told ExplorersWeb. “In my opinion it was very dangerous, and the tents were set in a wrong place - but so many people had slept there before, including experts - that finally we convinced ourselves we shouldn’t worry.”
Additionally, Australian Duncan Chessell, guiding for an expedition that was called off due to overcrowding on the mountain, had this to say:
“Our Autumn 2006 Ama Dablam trip got shut down 100% trying to get to Camp 2, since there was far too many people on the route. My guess having been on the mountain 4 times (summited 3 times) is that C3 was over crowded and these guys put their tents across too far to the left - under the ice cliff.”
Probably for good reason, EverestNews is coming out hard against Brice and a Discovery Channel special that airs tonight on the David Sharp disaster. Some of Tom & Tina's choice vitriol:
"Russell Brice is a bully, and a dictator."
"There are many question marks surrounding Russell Brice: The biggest commercial leader on the North side, Russell has been accused of cutting ropes, sabotaging free weather forecasts, and to be a major client of fellow commercial expedition leader Henry Todd's sketchy supplementary oxygen. Todd's life support system is manufactured in secrecy, without a company address, technical specs or official supervision of any kind."
"Rumor also has it Brice left New Zeeland years
ago after having a bad guiding accident with a client; that he couldn't
hack the heat from it in NZ so he left and ended up in Chamonix."
"At the expedition's start, Brice lays down the law, "It's not their [Sherpas] job to die alongside you because of your ambitions," he tells his clients. "If I see that that's going to happen, I'm going to call the Sherpas away. I will deal with that in court later - and you will die."