Sherpas | KUOW News and Information

Sherpas

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The autographs of people who have stood atop the world's highest mountain line the walls of the Rum Doodle Bar and Restaurant in Kathmandu. The best known is the late Edmund Hillary, half of the two-person team that first reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953. His climbing partner, the late Tenzing Norgay, was a member of Nepal's Sherpa ethnic group.

Monitors flash Kaji Sherpa's vital signs as he recovers in the ICU of Katmandu's Norvic International hospital. Miraculously, the 39-year-old senior climber survived the wall of deadly ice and snow that crushed 16 of his colleagues in the largest loss of life in a single day on Everest, the mountain Sherpas call "Mother Goddess of Earth."

The team had been preparing a path for their clients, fixing ropes on a treacherous stretch known as the "Popcorn" ice field, so-called for its bulging chunks of ice.

"There was a small hill" that acted as a buffer, Kaji says.

Courtesy Alpine Ascents International

Last Friday’s avalanche on Mount Everest was especially devastating for one Seattle-based mountaineering company.

Of the 16 Sherpa guides killed, five of them were employees of Alpine Ascents International.

AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha

Marcie Sillman speaks with Mingma T. Sherpa, a Seattle-area resident who grew up in Khumjung, Nepal.

Mingma is also a member of the Northwest Sherpa Association. He talks about the deadly avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 16 Sherpas, including his childhood friend.