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Sherpa Exploitation


When we think of labor, we probably don’t really think of the Sherpas, who guide climbers up Mt. Everest and other high Himalayan peaks. But in fact, the climbers often treat the Sherpas like beasts of burden. It is very dangerous work and Sherpa deaths are far from uncommon. The Sherpas aren’t organizing into a union or anything like that, but they do sometimes get sick and tired of being treated like animals. A group of Sherpas got into a fight with the climbers they guided when the climbers didn’t listen to them and kicked ice down the mountain at them. That the climbers are largely very rich people and the Sherpas very poor has also caused resentment. This is a thoughtful overview of the issue from a climber’s perspective.

As a side note, it’s been my experience that mountain climbers and even rock climbers are the least pleasant group of people you meet in the outdoors world. Both are dominated by highly masculine cultures that revel in the challenge of conquering something and are too often indifferent to the rest of the natural world out there, not to mention the pollution and other problems they can cause. When you add in the extreme wealth of high-end mountain climbing, the potential for jerks can be quite high.

….Note–this story makes it clear that the fight was between solo climbers and the Sherpas who were working for a different group.

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