wildly curious
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Sherpas and the Mountaineers

Alan Arnette
Mountaineer Alan Arnette with Kami, his Sherpa, on Mt. Everest

A deadly avalanche recently struck Mt. Everest, taking the lives of 16 Sherpa climbers who were helping Westerners summit the world’s tallest mountain. It was the deadliest avalanche ever on Everest, and it puts a spotlight on the Sherpas and the foreign mountaineers who enlist their aid. Wednesday, we’re talking about the evolving relationship between Sherpas and Western adventurers, one of mutual dependence and cultural conflict played out in a pressure-cooker environment of mortal risk.

Snowbird Ski and Mountain Resort and the Human Outreach Project is hosting a fundraiser for the families of the 16 Sherpas who perished in the recent avalanche on Mt. Everest. That event is on May 26. Visit Snowbird.com for more details. You can also contribute directly to a relief fund for the families of the lost Sherpas by following this link.


  • Sherry Ortner is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA and author of the book Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering [Amazon|Indiebound].
  • Alan Arnette is an experienced mountaineer who has climbed Everest four times and submitted in 2011. His blog about Everest on AlanArnette.com is closely followed by the international mountaineering community.
Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.