Photo Courtesy Ned Johnston

Everest tragedy hits home for MDI man



Photo Courtesy Ned Johnston
Bar Harbor cinematographer Ned Johnston, a veteran of three expeditions to Mount Everest, on a trip to North America’s highest mountain, Denali.

BAR HARBOR — The loss of more than a dozen intrepid Sherpa Mountain Guides on Mount Everest last week struck home for a Mount Desert Island cinematographer who is a veteran of three expeditions to the world’s highest peak.

It was while fixing ropes and preparing the route through the Khumbe Ice Fall, a jagged glacier on Everest’s south face, on April 18 that a massive avalanche of snow and ice hit Sherpas and others working for a number of expeditions. A total of 16 are listed or believed dead. Three remain missing under more than 100 feet of snow and ice. Nine men were seriously injured.

Ned Johnston of Bar Harbor spent many weeks on the mountain in 1996, 1999 and 2002, working on film projects.

While the tendency is for many people outside of the climbing community to stereotype Sherpas as mere porters, the truth is they are among the most skilled climbers in the world. In most cases, Johnston noted, the climbers who actually reach the summit would have no chance if not for the advance work done by Sherpas.

According to the British paper The Daily Mail, the names of the dead include: Mingma Nuru Sherpa, Derji Sherpa, Dorjee Khatri, Then Dorjee Sherpa, Phur Temba Sherpa, Ang Tshiri Sherpa, Nima Sherpa, Phurba Ongyal Sherpa, Lakpa Tenjing Sherpa, Chhring Ongchu Sherpa, Pasag Karma Sherpa and Asman Tamang.

The missing include: Ankaji Sherpa, Pem Tenji Sherpa, Ash Bahadur Gurung and Tenzng Chottar Sherpa.

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Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.

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