Climbers Abandon Mount Everest Expedition After Brawling With Sherpas

Three climbers involved in a high-altitude brawl on Mount Everest have abandoned their expedition after fending off a group of angry Sherpa guides.

Ueli Steck of Switzerland, Simone Moro of Italy and Jonathan Griffith of Great Britain met with the Sherpas and Nepalese authorities today to clear the air, according to an update on Moro's Facebook page.

"I wanted that the meeting with everyone at base camp ended with my words that underlined the esteem I have for the Sherpa and Nepal, but I also stated that this violence killed our climbing dream and that we are leaving," Moro said in an interview with Planet Mountain.

The drama unfolded Saturday at 24,500 feet, according to a statement posted on Moro's website, after a Sherpa accused the three of knocking ice onto a fellow guide below and injuring him.

The lead Sherpa began "shouting and banging the ice with his ax erratically," Moro said.

The trio and the Sherpas, who are known for providing support to foreign trekkers and mountain climbers, descended to Camp 2, at which point Moro said they were outnumbered by 100 Sherpas who punched and kicked them and threw rocks.

"They were throwing stones," Steck told the BBC. "One tried to use a pocket knife to hit Simone Moro. Luckily, he just hit his belt off his backpack."

The situation calmed down after 50 minutes, at which point Moro said the men were told "if they weren't gone in one hour that they would all be killed."

The the three retreated to the base of the mountain, Moro said, "feeling that given the current situation this was the safest place to be."

He suggested the lead Sherpa may have been dealing with bruised pride after the three climbers passed him, prompting him to start the fight.

"Whatever the reason may be, there is no reason to instigate vigilante rule and to try and kill three visiting climbers," he said.

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