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Sherpas, Fate and the Dangerous Business of Everest

Sherpas Fate and the Dangerous Business of Everest WSJ com


Everest—despite, or perhaps because of, its fearsome reputation and long history of death and disaster—has turned into a big business. It is the centerpiece of Nepal's $360 million trekking-and-tourism industry. Last year, more than 450 people climbed Everest, more than twice as many as in 1990. And with the help of commercial expedition firms, and better weather forecasting, a climber's odds of success have never been better, with more than half now reaching the summit.

But more climbers, including some less prepared than others, means more Sherpas working on the mountain—and more people exposed to risk. Though fatality rates for guides and climbers have declined over the decades, four Sherpas died last year and three the year before. Among clients, "there are fewer hard-core mountaineers," says Susmita Maskey, a 34-year-old Nepali who has climbed Everest and some of the world's other tallest peaks. "It's a circus."

Stashed in: Stories, Climbing, Life Death Life Death, Consumer Trends, Out of Doors, Everest!

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