Everest sherpas abandon climbing season
22 April 2014, 19:54
Kathmandu - Nepalese guides on Everest told AFP on Tuesday
they were packing up and leaving the mountain after a meeting at which they
decided to abandon this year's climbing season to honour their dead colleagues.
"We had a long meeting this afternoon and we decided to
stop our climbing this year to honour our fallen brothers. All sherpas are
united in this," local guide, Tulsi Gurung, said from base camp.
"Some guides have already left and others will take
about a week to pack up everything and go," said Gurung, whose brother is
among those missing after an avalanche killed 13 sherpas and left three buried
in deep snow.
Another sherpa guide, Pasang Sherpa, added: "Sixteen
people have died on this mountain on the first day of our climb, how can we
step on it now?"
The guides had threatened to cancel all climbing on Mount
Everest and issued an ultimatum to the government, demanding higher
compensation, an agreement to revise insurance payments and a welfare fund by
The decision to abandon the season appeared to pre-empt the
outcome of talks which are underway in Kathmandu. High-profile Western
mountaineers left base camp for the capital on Tuesday afternoon to seek a
resolution to the crisis.
"They have decided that compensation is not the only
issue, they feel like they have to close down Everest this year as a memorial
to those who died," said Ed Marzec, an American climber, who spoke to AFP
from base camp.
Sherpas earn between $3 000 to $6 000 a season, but their
insurance cover is almost always inadequate when accidents happen.
More than 300 people, most of them local guides, have died
on the 8 848-metre peak since the first ascent by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing
Norgay in 1953.