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Mount Everest Fight: Climbers Reach Truce With Sherpas

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KATMANDU, Nepal -- A truce has been reached between three foreign climbers and Nepalese Sherpa guides who were involved in a fistfight on Mount Everest, officials said Wednesday. Two of the foreigners, however, returned to Nepal's capital and were undecided if they would quit their climb.

Tilak Pandey of the Mountaineering Department said a truce was reached at base camp between the foreigners – an Italian, a Briton and a Swiss – and the Sherpas on Tuesday.

Nima Nuru of Cho-Oyu Trekking, who equipped the expedition, said Swiss climber Ueli Steck and British climber Jonathan Griffith flew to Katmandu by helicopter on Wednesday, and Italian Simone Moro also was planning to return.

Nepalese officials are investigating the fight, which both sides accuse the other of starting.

Steck and Griffith refused to talk to reporters in Katmandu.

Sumit Joshi, a mountain guide from Sydney, Australia, said by telephone from the Everest base camp that the argument started when the Sherpa guides, who were fixing ropes and digging a path on the snowy trail above Camp 2, asked the foreign climbers to wait until they were finished. He said the climbers ignored them and started climbing, knocking ice chunks onto the Sherpas below.

The foreign climbers yelled "foul words" during an argument, he said.

On their return to Camp 2 later in the evening, the three climbers were surrounded by 30-40 Sherpas and there was a scuffle and punches were thrown, Joshi said. Other climbers at the camp, located at 6,500 meters (21,300 feet), were able to stop the fight and once the climbers returned to the base camp a truce was reached, he said.

Hundreds of climbers from 32 expeditions and their Sherpa guides and helpers are at the base camp waiting for the window of good weather in May to make their way to the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit. Spring is considered the best season to climb.

Nepal will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Everest later this month.

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