Cayman lawyer's Sherpa among Everest dead

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A Sherpa who helped Cayman attorney Guy Manning reach the summit of Mount Everest last year is among 16 Nepalese Sherpas buried in Friday’s deadly avalanche on the mountain. 

During Mr. Manning’s climb to the highest place on the planet in May 2013, Sherpa Pasang Karma was by his side all the way. 

Despite his small frame, the Nepalese Sherpa climbed alongside the attorney, bearing the load of extra oxygen tanks and helping to deter Mr. Manning from turning back in times of exhaustion.  

For Mr. Manning, the efforts of his Sherpa guide are something he will never forget. 

“Karma came into his own on the descent. Although he’s only half my size, he’s as strong as an ox, and he clipped into my harness so that he could hold me if I slipped,” he said. “The descent took five hours, but they seemed like the longest five hours of my life.” 

Following the climb, as Mr. Manning collapsed into his tent after battling diarrhea, exhaustion and frostbite, Sherpa Karma turned around and headed back up the mountain with another Sherpa, Pasang, to take part in a rescue.  

“Despite having already been to the summit and back with me, Karma joined him,” Mr. Manning said. “A phenomenal effort.” 

Without the help of the Sherpas, who are key guides and also haul tons of gear up the mountain, it would be nearly impossible for climbers to scale Everest. Thirteen Sherpas were killed in Friday’s avalanche and three were still missing, presumed dead, on Wednesday. The avalanche was reportedly the single deadliest accident in modern mountaineering on Everest. 

The avalanche was triggered when a massive piece of glacier sheared away from the mountain along a section of constantly shifting ice and crevasses known as the Khumbu Icefall – a treacherous area where overhanging ice can be the size of office buildings. Mr. Manning said the recent deaths were in no way related to skill. “It’s being in the wrong place at the wrong time – there was nowhere for them to go,” he said.  

The lawyer reached the summit of Mount Everest last May carrying the names of 56 cancer survivors and a Caymanian flag, and raised $100,000 for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society. He is taking part in the Seven Summits challenge, in which climbers aim to reach the top of the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.  

The partner of Campbell’s law firm posed with Pasang Karma at the peak, 29,029 feet above sea level, after his arduous climb, “soaking it all in,” he said. 

He is now urging people to donate to the fallen Sherpas’ families, many of whom have been left with no means of income.  

The tragedy has thrown the mountain’s climbing season into turmoil after dozens of Sherpas packed up their tents and left Mount Everest’s Base Camp to honor their fallen just weeks before most climbing attempts, when there’s a weather window in mid-May. 

To donate to the families of the Sherpas who lost their lives, call Nicole D’Heer Watson on 914-5874 or email [email protected] 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Local attorney Guy Manning and Sherpa Pasang Karma during last year’s Mount Everest climb. Pasang Karma is among the Sherpas killed in last week’s avalanche.