KATMANDU, Nepal – Most Sherpa mountain climbers have decided to leave Mount Everest, a guide said Tuesday, confirming a walkout certain to disrupt a climbing season that was already marked by grief over the 16 lives lost in Everest’s deadliest disaster.
“It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing while there are three of our friends buried in the snow,” said Dorje Sherpa, an experienced Everest guide from the tiny Himalayan community that has become famous for its high-altitude skills and endurance.
“I can’t imagine stepping over them,” he said of the three Sherpa guides who remain buried in ice and snow after Friday’s deadly avalanche. Thirteen bodies have been recovered.
The avalanche was triggered when a massive piece of glacier sheared away from the mountain along a section of shifting ice and crevasses known as the Khumbu Icefall – a teacherous area where immensities of ice as large as 10-story buildings hang over a route up the mountain.
Earlier Tuesday, Nepal’s government appeared to agree to some of the Sherpas’ demands in the threatened boycott, such as setting up a relief fund for Sherpas who are killed or injured in climbing accidents, but the funding falls far short of the Sherpas’ demands.
After the avalanche, the government quickly said it would pay the families of each Sherpa who died 40,000 rupees, or about $415. The Sherpas said they deserved far more – including more insurance money, more financial aid for the victims’ families and new regulations that would ensure climbers’ rights.