May 19: An American woman who is ignoring the closure of Everest and trying to climb the mountain from Nepal without permission, has a grudge against Sherpas, who allegedly left her to die on another Himalayan peak, fellow climbers claim.
Before being dropped by helicopter on the mountain and embarking on her illegal climb, Cleo Weidlich, 51, wrote on her Facebook page that she “refused to give in to the Everest mafia” after Sherpas called for the mountain to be closed following the deaths of 16 colleagues in an avalanche last month.
“This is just to let you know that my climb on the Everest massif will continue.”
Anselm Murphy, an Irish alpinist who has climbed with her, said her decision to press ahead was linked to her resentment of Sherpa guides in Nepal after an accident three years ago in which she was nearly killed. “She’ll do whatever she wants,” said Murphy, who became the youngest Irishman to climb Everest in 2008. “She doesn’t care about the Sherpas.”
In 2011, Murphy and Weidlich were climbing the 8,586-metre Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, when she suffered a minor fall and injured her leg close to the summit on the descent.
She was exhausted and her broken goggles made her snow-blind. Murphy and another colleague, the Briton Ted Atkins, began to suspect that she might be suffering from a cerebral oedema — fluid on the brain — because she had become extremely disorientated.
“She wasn’t in a good way, so we tried to get her down as low as possible for a helicopter rescue,” he said, adding that she was climbing with a team of three Sherpas hired to personally assist her.