Richland mountaineer safe after Everest avalanche

Tri-City HeraldApril 18, 2014 

Ang Dorjee Sherpa

FILE PHOTO: Ang Dorjee Sherpa of Richland returned after his 16th summit of Mount Everest in June 2012.

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A Richland mountaineering guide who takes climbers up Mount Everest wasn’t hurt in Friday morning’s deadly avalanche on the peak.

But three Sherpas working on Ang Dorjee Sherpa’s team were killed and another was hurt, Ang Dorjee’s wife, Michelle Gregory, told the Herald.

“They’re all just devastated,” Gregory said. “The Sherpa community is quite tight. He knows all of them. It’s a really hard time for everyone.” Sherpas are an ethnic group known for climbing in Nepal. Sherpas from several teams were laying lines and hauling gear when the avalanche struck, Gregory said.

“Every expedition lends some of their Sherpas to do this, which is why so many were affected,” she said.

Gregory talked with her husband by phone early Friday and he called later to talk with their two kids. She’s a scientist who met Ang Dorjee in 2002 while staying at an Everest base camp to do research.

Ang Dorjee has climbed the 29,035-foot Mount Everest 17 times. He’s there as the lead guide for the New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants’ 2014 Everest expedition.

The company is setting up a fund for the families of the Sherpas. To learn more about how to help, e-mail info@adventure.co.nz.

Gregory noted that when a Sherpa dies on Everest, the family is left financially devastated. “There’s no such thing as life insurance,” she said.

The Tri-City Herald has featured Ang Dorjee and his family several times. Last June, a story told of their reunion at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco after he returned from an Everest trip.

He spoke of never losing respect for the mountain, the world’s highest peak.

“Climbing the mountain is gambling,” he said. “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.”

He also was humble about his accomplishments.

“This is just what I do,” he said. “Not being with (family) is hard.”

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