Police in Nepal are investigating an alleged fight between two famous European climbers and their Nepalese mountain guides on Mount Everest.
Switzerland’s Ueli Steck and Simone Moro from Italy were nearing Camp Three at 7,470m (24,500ft) when the incident occurred.
The fight allegedly broke out after the pair ignored orders to hold their climb while the Sherpas were rigging ropes.
The guides reportedly attacked the pair after they returned to their tents.
Following the incident, the climbers packed “bare essentials” and made their way back down to Mount Everest base camp, “feeling that this was the safest place to be”, said Mr Moro, an experienced Everest climber.
‘Terrifying to watch’
One version of events is that the guides asked the climbers to wait while they went ahead and secured ropes, but the climbers continued and dislodged ice which fell on the guides.
Mr Moro said in a statement that “getting hit by chunks of ice is a very natural occurrence” on an ice face. “As it stands, no Sherpa has come forward to show any injury.”
“The climbers believe that the lead Sherpa was felt that his pride had been damaged as the climbers were moving unroped and much faster,” the statement added.
When they returned to their tents, Mr Moro said a large mob of guides had grouped together to attack him, Mr Steck and a third climber in their expedition, Briton Jonathan Griffith.
“[The guides] became instantly aggressive and not only punched and kicked the climbers, but threw many rocks as well,” said Mr Moro.
An unnamed eyewitness told the AFP news agency the incident had been “terrifying to watch – they nearly got killed”.
More than 3,000 people have scaled Mount Everest since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Straddling Nepal and China, the world’s largest mountain has an altitude of 8,848m (29,029ft).
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