Sixty years ago, Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander, and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first confirmed people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Ever since, Sherpas -- who live in the region and are renowned for their mountaineering skills -- have been helping Westerners on their quests to reach the mountain's summit. But the relationship has not always been harmonious.
The latest skirmish involved Italian, Swiss and British professional climbers and a group of Sherpas. Tensions escalated last weekend when the three Western climbers passed the Sherpas, stepping over the ropes the Sherpas were fixing for expeditions.
As climbing season on Everest swings into high gear, so, occasionally, do tempers. The clash of cultures mixed with the precipitous and volatile nature of the world's tallest mountain can quickly turn already dangerous situations into life-threatening events.
"The purpose of having a fixed rope is to protect climbers from crevasses and falling on steep terrain," explains blogger Alan Arnette, who has been to Everest four times and summited in 2011. "So by definition, those fixing the rope are in those dangerous situations with little protection."