The Mount Everest avalanche Friday that took the lives of at least 12 ethnic Nepalese Sherpas, killed two Sherpas who were working for an American daredevil planning to jump off the top of the world’s highest peak in a wing suit, for a U.S. TV special to air on the Discovery Channel.
The Discovery Channel has now canceled the special, produced by the NBC network’s Peacock Productions, which had been scheduled to air live on May 11 — but Lousiana-born thrillseeker Joby Ogwyn said that he wanted to keep going, even though he was “heartbroken” that two of the Sherpas in his employ were killed in the Mount Everest avalanche.
Daredevil Planned To Go Ahead With Wing Suit Jumping Stunt
“I am safe at base camp but I have lost my Sherpa team in the avalanche yesterday,” the 39-year-old Ogwyn wrote on his Facebook wall Saturday. “These men were the salt of the Earth. Far better men than me. My heart is broken.”
Ogwyn also tweeted from Mount Everest that he planned to continue with his climb and wing suit jump.
Today is a brighter day. We are staying on the mountain to honor our friends and complete our project. Soon I…
— Joby Ogwyn (@jobyogwyn) April 20, 2014
Sherpa “Guides” Die At Alarming Rate, Most Lethal Job In The World
The Sherpas live at high altitudes in the Himalayan region of Nepal and many become expert mountaineers. Often misleadingly referred to as “guides,” Sherpas serve as support staff for the hundreds of foreigners every year who attempt to climb Mount Everest. While the foreign adventure tourists wait in base camps, Sherpas climb ahead to fix ropes and perform other preparations for their clients climbs to the 29,029-foot high summit.
But as proficient as Sherpas are in climbing Everest and other Himalayan mountains, their job is the deadliest in the world.
Sherpas died at rate of 1,332 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2013. Factoring in the Sherpas killed in Friday’s Mount Everest avalanche, that rate jumps to a staggering 4,053 per 100,000.
By comparison, being a U.S. soldier fighting the Iraq war was a walk in the park. In that conflict, American soldiers died at a rate of 335 per 100,000 from 2003 to 2007.
Alaskan bush pilots have the next most dangerous civilian job, dying at a rate of 287 per 100,000 — but that job is a model of safety compared to the occupation of Sherpa “guide.”
Discovery Channel Cancels Stunt Special “Out Of Respect” For Sherpas
“In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mount Everest and out of respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live,” the Discovery Channel said in a statement Sunday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community.”
The two Sherpas working for the Discovery Channel and NBC’s Mount Everest expedition were Mingma Nuru Sherpa and Dorji Sherpa. They were among the 60 Sherpas who set out Friday morning to carry gear and prepare routes for the American daredevil and other climbers when the avalanche struck Mount Everest at about 6:30 am.