Grayson Schaffer: Outside’s Senior Editor On the Surprising Death Rate of Sherpas on Everest


Since before Edmond Hillary stood atop Mount Everest in 1953 the Sherpa people of Nepal have assisted climbers hoping to summit the tallest peak in the world. In an economy with limited prospects for financial gain many Sherpa have few choices but to face the rigors of commercial climbing expeditions in order to feed their families. And when these men die while performing extremely hazardous tasks, their surviving family members are not only left without a primary wage earner but they seldom receive adequate insurance benefits to help compensate for their loss.

In his feature report, “The Disposable Man,” which appeared on the cover of the August 2013 edition of Outside magazine, senior editor Grayson Schaffer explores the reasons behind the startling one percent mortality rate (later we’ll show you why that’s really high) of Sherpa guides and reveals some of the cold realities surrounding this deadly profession.

In an occupation with one of the highest death rates in the world, are commercial climbing operators and their clients asking the Sherpa to pay too high a price for their adventure experience?

For The James Edward Mills to talks with Grayson Schaffer about some of the issues involved in creating a Sherpa safety net. read more =>The Clymb


Disposable Man from Outside Magazine on Vimeo.


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I’m a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.