Friday Fictioneers: All Is Lost

friday-fictioneersJoin us each week for the best in writing and fellowship. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields herds this merry group of Kool cats, with a weekly photo prompt and a reminder to: play nice, be respectful, and do your best work. Flash fiction at its best! Write a 100-word story with a beginning, middle and end. This week’s photo is provided by Douglas M. MacIlroy. Check out  the  other stories and find more details on Addicted to Purple. Then, join us!   I always welcome honest, kind, or constructive feedback; please leave a comment.

©Douglas M. McIlroy

©Douglas M. McIlroy

(100 Words)

All Is Lost

Ang Tenjing Sherpa and Dawa Choden Sherpa made slow, steady progress across the ice field, heavy gear making their work much harder.

The sudden roar was deafening, as the ground shook. Dawa turned up the slope and saw the massive wall of ice rushing toward them.


No time to react, no place to go; stones and ice filled Dawa’s mouth. His cry was buried with his broken body, fifty feet from his brother Ang’s.

Hours later, tiny memorial candles twinkled in the dark. Prayer flags fluttered hopelessly, as families gathered to mourn, on Everest’s deadliest day.

*    *   *

On April 18, 2014, a massive avalanche buried 25 people within the Khumbu Icefield, near base camp on Mt. Everest. Despite heroic rescue efforts, 16 people were killed–all of them Sherpas or guides. This was the single deadliest day in Everest’s history. The loss to the tight-knit Sherpa and climbing community was devastating! Work as a Sherpa on Everest is grueling and extremely dangerous, but families are drawn to the illustrious tradition for what is considered good money, in a country where many live near the poverty line. Still, they are enormously underpaid for helping others climb the highest mountain on earth, given that many pay up to $100,000 to make the climb. This disaster has raised serious questions about compensation and safety for Sherpas. Following the tragedy, all Sherpas servicing Everest agreed to not work the rest of the 2014 climbing season, to honor their fallen family members.

(The names used are not the actual names of victims. Note that all Sherpas use the name “Sherpa” as a surname. To read more about the 2014 Everest Avalanche, go to this link. )

•    •    •

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About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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48 Responses to Friday Fictioneers: All Is Lost

  1. Dawn, Lovely memorial to the victims of the Mt. Everest avalanche. Well written as always. Thanks for the informative link. 🙂 —Susan


  2. Dear Dawn,

    Words escape me. This was jaw dropping, tender and chilling all at the same time. Beautifully written. Is there any wonder that I look forward to coming by here for my weekly portion of magic?




  3. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Dawn,

    Sur name.

    This was a wonderful tribute and remembrance of those who died. At lower levels, on the treks through what amounts to the foothills of the Himalayas, porters earn the equivalent of two dollars a day. For this money that carry some eighty pounds of gear, equipment or supplies for an entire day. I hope that something can be done to compensate the families of those who lost their lives and perhaps a change will come for all of them throughout the region. Very well done.




    • Doug, I appreciate the additional comment regarding the conditions that these men live under. It is such a hardship, and yet they are such giving, people who take enormous pride in their work, and put their own lives at risk daily, to help others. I appreciate the time you took to read and comment; mahalo. Dawn


  4. Jan Brown says:

    You bring needed attention to the conditions in which these talented people work. They truly have critical skills.

    And so do you. Your writing was lovely, as always.

    One tiny note, to correct Doug’s correction: it should be “surname.”


    • Eek! How embarrassing. I do know that it’s surname… but did my final edit very late last night! Thanks Doug and Jan… even if Jan is the one who got it right. 😉 I saw the mistake this morning, before I read either of these comments, but I’m grateful you guys are looking out for me. Thanks for the kind comment, and good editing, Jan; it’s much appreciated! As for the Sherpas, their role in climbing indeed critical, and they deserve much better.


  5. Shandra says:

    Beautiful, touching, chilling.


  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Lovely tribute to those who lost their lives or their loved ones.


    • Thanks Carrie. It was a horrible event, and sad for all involved. Thanks for dropping by! It’s always great to see you here! I’ve been so crazy with graduationS, weddings, and kids home… I am way behind in reading and writing! Thanks for staying the course. 😉


  7. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I’m always amazed at the direction in which these prompts take you. Nothing could have been more perfect than your response to this photo. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to the sherpas of Nepal. Very well done.


    • Thanks Cathy. I generally see the photo and something comes to mind fairly quickly. In this case, the lights made me think of a vigil and the tragedy on Everest was very recent, and on my mind. I’m glad you enjoy the journey too! Thanks for your consistently positive support of my writing; it really means a lot. Dawn


  8. A great tribute. Well done.


  9. This was so powerful and chilling. It was a phenomenal portrayal of the incident, as well as an effective effort at raising awareness for the injustice of the sherpas. A wonderfully written and meaningful piece.


  10. I’ve been following this story on NPR since the avalanche happened. I’ve not only learned much from their broadcasts, but have recently heard the Sherpas are beginning to realize they need more. Thanks for a wonderful tribute.


    • Thanks Alicia. Yes, this has been an enormous eye opener for many! So many people who take on Everest take for granted the contribution the Sherpas make to their success as climbers. The Sherpas become one more detail to negotiate down, price wise, with too little respect for the enormous courage and effort that these local people put into that economy, and the lives of others. It’s all very interesting as it plays out, against the backdrop of this horrific tragedy.


  11. Jennie Saia says:

    I read Into Thin Air many years ago, and first felt the wrongness of what’s happening on Everest. For such an amazing achievement to be so loaded with ethical dilemmas and environmental concerns makes it appear far less shiny in my eyes. I hope there is a silver lining to this tragedy, and that changes are made.


    • There are so many issues here, and many of them are not the grand images we all conjure when we imagine Everest. Yes, the environment pay an enormous toll in this endeavor (so often the case!), and then there are so many other issues to consider. Thanks for taking the time!


  12. Exploitation is the name of the game. And sadness for all their families and community.


  13. What I found most touching about this post is that Sherpas servicing Everest agreed to not work the rest of the 2014 climbing season. Considering their already low incomes I find that very telling to their dedication of one and other.


  14. Sandra says:

    A fitting tribute; they don’t get anywhere near the reward that they should.


  15. Dawn, that was a beautiful tribute to those Sherpas who died on that day.


  16. rgayer55 says:

    I can’t imagine the horror of seeing a wall of ice and rock about to consume you, but your writing captured it well.


  17. What an honor to the fallen sherpas. And as always, brilliantly written. Searing.


  18. wmqcolby says:

    Wow! That was intense, Dawn. The horror that must have been.

    There’s a short story written by Pietro Di Donato called “Christ In Concrete.” It’s about a Depression era Italian worker on a construction site and how he is graphically and horrifically killed on the job. Little echoes of that in there.



  19. sandraconner says:

    So well-written, Dawn. And stories like this do a lot to help the rest of the world understand the lives — and the often tragically unfair lives — of people we might otherwise be ignorant of. (Forgive the hanging preposition. Turning it around sounded so pompous.)


  20. This is a moving story, Dawn, that will hopefully help raise awareness of the conditions of the sherpas.


  21. MissTiffany says:

    A beautifully written tribute to the victims and families of this tragic accident. I can only imagine the horror the victims felt in that moment and later, the terrible loss their families suffered.


  22. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Dawn, I was so moved by the candles near the site after the avalanche in April. The news showed a lot of pictures and I feel so sorry for the family of the Sherpa’s and I think if the climbers are paying $100,000 to climb, they could afford to help pay for a life-insurance policy for them. This was a very moving story! The Sherpas deserve more for risking their lives just so some body can have a picture on the wall. Thanks! Nan 🙂


  23. maru clavier says:

    A tragedy in nine lines… well done.


  24. I didn’t know much about that tragedy, but you’ve written a touching tribute to the victims. “Prayer flags fluttered hopelessly” makes the point so well. Thanks, Dawn.


  25. subroto says:

    Beautiful and touching tribute to the people without whom these expeditions would not be possible.



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