TIME Nepal

Climbers Start Leaving Everest As Sherpas Threaten to Strike

Mount Everest on Oct. 27, 2011.
Kevin Frayer—AP Mount Everest seen in 2011.

Some foreign mountaineers looking to ascend the world's highest peak in Nepal are divided between staying and going as Sherpas demand better compensation and improved safety conditions following a recent avalanche that killed 16 local guides

Some would-be Mount Everest climbers are packing up and heading home as some Sherpas threaten to strike after a deadly avalanche, the BBC reports.

The Sherpas, locals who do the heavy-lifting for foreign climbers seeking to make the treacherous ascent, are demanding better financial treatment and improved safety conditions in the wake of a disaster that killed 16 of their colleagues.

Top Nepalese tourism officials are attempting to negotiate with the Sherpas in an effort to save this year’s climbing season. The Everest climb is all but impossible for foreign visitors without the help, knowledge and labor of the experienced Sherpas, who currently make from $3,000 to $6,000 each season. The country’s tourism ministry expressed hope that the talks between the Sherpas and the Nepalese government might salvage at least some of the season, which generates about $3.3 million annually for Nepal in climbing fees alone.

More than 300 foreign climbers were set to scale Everest’s peak this year. However, last week’s fatal accident caused many to head home over concerns for their own safety regardless of the Sherpas’ threats to strike.

[BBC and Independent]

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