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A decade later, she was in Nepal to make another film about the Sherpa, with a particular focus on mountaineer Phurba Tashi Sherpa, who, in 2014, before the annual climbing season on Everest began, had summited the world’s highest peak an astonishing twenty-one times.

He shared that achievement with another mountaineer, Apa Sherpa, and one more successful summit would have have given Phurba Tashi the world record in his own right.

A climber wishing to summit Mount Everest must pass through a series of five ascending camps.

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A Western client may, on average, traverse the Icefall two or three times during their expedition, but the Sherpas must carry loads of equipment through this treacherous terrain up to thirty times per climbing season. As Russell Brice observes in Peedom’s film, sending the Sherpa guides through the Icefall is like sending them ‘off to war’. Brice appears in as a conflicted and somewhat curmudgeonly figure.

He is a highly experienced guide who cancelled his 2012 expedition because of an overhanging ice cliff that he thought represented a grave danger to both clients and Sherpas – an unusual decision, and one that attracted criticism from other tour operators.

But Brice, at least, has an ongoing connection with the Sherpa community, whereas the attitude on display from some of his clients represents the worst of Western entitlement.

One furious American climber first wonders whether the Sherpas’ ‘owners’ can bring them back into line, and then declares that his thwarted climbing plans mean he is ‘being held captive by terrorists’.

Among his clients in 2014 were several return climbers who had lost out, financially, because of that cancelled climb, and both they and Brice seem at times impatient with the Sherpas’ grief and anger.

Brice grows increasingly frustrated, blaming the unrest among the Sherpas upon a ‘militant’ minority.It had always been her intention to document village life, but after the avalanche, she wondered if she and her crew had become ‘ambulance chasers’.Eventually, and with the agreement of the villagers, Peedom went ahead with these scenes, in order that the deceased Sherpas might be seen as more than ‘faceless statistics’.But the Sherpa are a close-knit community: they are not only skilled mountaineers but a minority ethnic group within Nepal, with their own language and religious practices.After the avalanche, the Sherpa made an unprecedented request for Western clients and tour operators to ‘respect the dead and ourselves’ by cancelling the entire climbing season.Nepal is one of the poorest countries on Earth, and a Sherpa mountain guide, though they are paid a mere fraction of what Western clients pay to climb the mountain, can earn more in one climbing season than they otherwise would in a year of subsistence farming or herding.

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