Tenzing Norgay's son has called the Everest industry a "circus" ahead of the release of a new documentary about worker's rights on one of the world's most famous mountains.

Australian film-maker Jennifer Peedom's documentary Sherpa explores the working conditions of sherpas on Mt Everest, who escort tourists up and down the mountain at high risk to their own safety and for very little pay.

Norbu Tenzing, son of Tenzing Norgay, the sherpa who along with Sir Edmund Hilary was the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest in 1953, works in San Francisco as vice-president of the American Himalayan Foundation.

He is a champion of Ms Peedom's documentary and features in it, the Guardian has reported.


Mr Tenzing describes Sherpa as "a big, big gift for the mountaineering workers and sherpas. This is a subject that has always played in our minds and hasn't been talked about much. This film has given that issue a voice."

When questioned what his father might think of the current state of affairs, Mr Tenzing did not hold back.

"I think he would be quite horrified with the way things have turned out. Since the time he was climbing there's been a complete change, a shift in the way people climb Everest and what motivates them.

"The sense of people going on an adventure, working together, doing something nobody's done before, with a sense of comradeship and working together - that spirit doesn't exist now.

"It's just a total service industry, where you're fulfilling the egos of western climbers and people from south Asia who want to test the limits of how close they can get to death, at great expense of the Sherpas. I don't think my father would want to be alive to see the circus that Everest has turned into."

Sherpa opens in New Zealand on Thursday April 7.