Top mountaineer reopens Everest brawl row

Legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner Wednesday reopened wounds left by a brawl last month high on Mount Everest, calling the European climbers involved in the fight "parasites".

Messner, who was the first to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain without supplementary oxygen, was taking part in celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the peak in 1953.

The brawl saw famed climbers Ueli Steck of Switzerland and Italian Simone Moro along with a British alpine photographer exchange blows with a group of furious Nepalese guides after a dispute over climbing rights.

The Nepalese claimed the Europeans ignored a request to stay in base camp while ropes were fixed on the Lhotse Face for commercial climbers, but the Europeans claimed they were free to ascend because they did not use ropes.

"Climbers who cross ladders set by Sherpas at the Khumbu Icefall, then go up without ropes and claim to be special are parasites," Messner told a crowd at the British embassy in Kathmandu, in an apparent reference to Steck and Moro.

"Everyone uses the infrastructure set up by the Sherpas, but not everyone pays for it," the 69-year-old told the hundreds-strong crowd.

The fight shocked the mountaineering community and caused a damaging rift between Western climbers who head to the Himalayas and the often lowly-paid Nepalese guides and porters who are essential for expeditions.

"What Hillary and Tenzing did 60 years ago was amazing, but in the meantime Everest has become a goal for tourists," Messner told AFP in an interview, adding that what happens on Everest today is "tourism, not mountaineering".

"Sherpas fix ropes then watch hundreds of people go up Everest like hikers, everyone uses the ladders at the beginning of the ascent," he said.

"If there is tension, it's between the Sherpas and the parasites," he said.