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Climbers abandon Everest after attack by Sherpas

MOUNTAINEERING — An American female climber who's climbed Mount Everest four times is getting a big share of the credit for saving three British climbers confronted on Everest by an angry mob.

British climber-photographer Jon Griffith told The Guardian he had to flee with two companions fearing the “mob” would stone them to death as “years of frustration” boiled over in what he calls a misunderstanding over use of routes prepared by the Sherpa guides.

Speaking from Lukla, the town that acts as gateway to the Everest region, Jon Griffith told the Guardian of the moment when a group of up to 100 Sherpas confronted them about an argument higher up the mountain. “It was obvious there would be no talking or negotiation,” he said. “They crested the ridge of moraine above our tent. They had pulled their scarves over their faces and instantly bent down to pick up rocks.”

Griffith said that without the bravery of half a dozen other climbers at Camp 2, he and his two partners – the Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck and the Italian Simone Moro – would have been killed in the incident on Saturday. He praised the American climber Melissa Arnot, the only woman to have climbed Everest four times, who warned them an attack was imminent.

He said: “Melissa was a real heroine. She saved Ueli's life. Without her, he'd be dead. She explained to us in our tent that there was a big mob out looking for us. She said something terrible must have happened. We explained that words had been exchanged but that was it. She stepped out of the tent for a moment and then shouted: 'They're coming, get out of here.'”

Steck, the renowned Swiss climber who's set records for climbing the Eiger and other peaks, said his “trust is broken” and he'll “never return to Everest,” in this interview with SwissInfo.com.

Outside magazine's site makes the point that early reports about incidents on Mount Everest “are often murky or incorrect when first filed.”  However, Steck's interview is riveting.

The Nepali Times calls it “the highest brawl in world history,” as well as evidence of a culture clash.

The AFP says a meeting between some of the climbers and the Nepalese guides may have cleared the air Monday.

ABC News is airing this TV report and interview with Arnot tonight.

National Public Radio is airing this interview with Griffith today.

Jess Roskelley climbs new Alaska Range route

MOUNTAINEERING — Jess Roskelley of Spokane teamed with John Frieh of Portland in late October for a three-day “smash and grab” outing to pioneer a new route on Mount Wake in the Alaska Range. 

Roskelley, the son of Spokane mountaineering veteran and county commissioner candidate, at one time was the youngest American to summit Mount Everest.

Timing the recent Alaska Range trip with a great weather forecast, Frieh and Roskelley flew by ski plane to the Ruth Glacier, got right to business to scale a route they've named The Cook Inlet (4,500′, V AI4 M4). They were back at their skis 15 hours after leaving and flew out the following morning.

“Autumn ascents in the Alaska Range are unusual, but if you can put up with the reduced daylight and deeper cold of post-equinox climbing, you may be rewarded with less avalanche danger and, of course, no crowds,” says climbing writer Dougald MacDonald in this report on the climb.

Record number of rescues logged in Tetons

MOUNTAINEERING —  Major searches and rescues at Grand Teton National Park hit a single-year record last week.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that park officials aren’t sure yet why there were so many rescues this year.

The record was eclipsed Aug. 20 when climber Lauren McLean of Lake Oswego, Ore., became the 31st major rescue since the park’s fiscal year began Oct. 1. McLean fell 20 to 30 feet because her belay system failed.

The busy year started right away for the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers. Twelve major rescues were performed during the winter and early spring months.

Full-time ranger Chris Harder told the newspaper rangers normally perform three to four major rescues during the winter.

Richland man summits Mount Everest 15th time

MOUNTAINEERING —  Ang Dorjee Sherpa reached the 29,036-foot summit at 4 a.m. May 13, marking the 15th time he has completed the feat.

“This year wasn’t that great, until May 1,” Ang Dorjee said Tuesday after returning to his home in Richland, Wash. “It was very windy and snowy.”

Ang Dorjee, a world-renown mountaineering guide, was the second of three teams from the New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants to reach the summit.

The first team summited May 11, Ang Dorjee helped guide three climbers in his team to the summit Friday the 13th, and the last team reached the top May 19.

Read on for more details from a Tri-City Herald story.

Tetons search and rescue costs soar

NATIONAL PARKS — Search and rescue operations are costing Grand Teton National Park millions of dollars topped by last month's $115,000 search for missing backcountry skiers.

In 2009, the last year figures were available, the National Park Service spent about $5 million performing search and rescue operations. The recent search for Walker Kuhl of Utah and Gregory Seftick of Montana, who went missing on a backcountry ski trip, cost the park $115,000, nearly double of any previous search and rescue operation.

The debate over who should pay for such operations increases along with the costs, according to this story on Wyofile.com.