Nepal officials vow to ensure security on Everest after fight

Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:30am EDT
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By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal officials vowed on Monday to ensure the safety of climbers seeking to scale Mount Everest after three European climbers were involved in a fight with sherpa guides on their way to the peak of the world's highest mountain.

Three experienced climbers from Britain, Italy and Switzerland were on route to camp three at 7,000 meters (22,965 feet) on the 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) Everest summit when a brawl broke out on Saturday with sherpas fixing their ropes.

Witnesses said the sherpas pelted the Europeans' tents with stones and punches were thrown.

Swiss climber Ueli Steck descended to the base camp after the attack and said he would abandon the climb and return to Kathmandu if proper security was not ensured.

Nepali officials were quick to respond after the unusual brawl on Mount Everest, which is a key source of income for impoverished Nepal as foreign climbers pay royalties to scale the world's highest peak.

Tourism Ministry official Dipendra Paudel said the government would ensure the safety and security of the climbers.

"There was a slight misunderstanding and communication gap between them," Paudel said in Kathmandu after contacting the base camp. "This has been sorted out and the climbers are at the base camp."

He said the European climbers would resume their bid to climb Everest.   Continued...

Mount Everest (C), the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen from air during a mountain flight from Kathmandu April 24, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Chong