Nepalese officials are investigating an alleged brawl between two famous European climbers and a group of Nepalese mountain guides near one of Mount Everest’s camps.
Simone Moro, an Italian who has reached the summit of Mount Everest four times, and Ueli Steck, a famous Swiss climber, were approaching the mountain’s “Camp Three” (24,500 feet), when they became involved in an altercation with Nepalese guides, Agence France Press (AFP) reports.
An anonymous American witness told AFP that the alleged incident occurred when Moro and Steck were asked to wait on the mountain while the Nepalese guides set up some ropes.
Instead, the Europeans, who are attempting to scale Mount Everest by a new “undisclosed” route without oxygen tanks, decided to ignore the request, the eyewitness told AFP.
"The Sherpas told the team not to climb above them while they were fixing the ropes but they did it anyway. Then some ice fell and hit the Sherpas, which made them angry," he said.
Later that day, the group of scorned Nepalese approached the Europeans’ tents, pelting them with stones until Moro and Steck came outside to face them. At that point, an argument ensued and punches were thrown, AFP reports.
"After a while the mob left, and the climbers packed up and walked past us down -- as far as we knew they were leaving the mountain," the eyewitness told AFP. "It was terrifying to watch -- they nearly got killed."
The alleged Mt. Everest brawl has sparked a police investigation, local officials told AFP.
"We were told our clients disagreed with the instructions of the Sherpa guides and went ahead over some icy terrain," Anish Gupta of Cho-Oyu Trekking, the company that is sponsoring the Europeans’ expedition, told AFP.
"We understand that at some point the foreign climbers kicked some ice back and it hit one of the Sherpa guides, causing the fight to start.”
Cho-Oyu Trekking claims that Moro and Steck have since descended to the lower reachs of Mount Everest, AFP reports.
Raj Kumar, a police officer in Lukla, Nepal, informed AFP that Steck had spent the night at a local hospital but was “totally normal” and free of injury.
On Monday morning, Steck rejoined Moro at Everest’s base camp, where the two will reportedly decide whether or not to continue their journey.
The Europeans have yet to publicly comment about the situation. Their sponsors claim that neither man has access to a cell phone.