An avalanche that left at least 12 dead has focused attention on the Sherpas, skilled high-altitude climbers who put themselves at great risk for the foreign teams that pay them.
This seems to me a sad and familiar story of work and ambition. My whole life I’ve heard people lauded for climbing Mount Everest – one of the great human achievements. These climbs can’t happen without a local going ahead to secure ropes and lines; that is to say, a Sherpa guide takes on the first danger and the highest risks and when the climb is made, the summit conquered, the guides get paid there daily sum and go unnamed. Meanwhile, the ones who simply pay the guides construct the story, the myth if you will, of individual excellence.