TIME Nepal

Nepal Agrees to Relief Fund for Sherpas to Keep Climbing Season Open

A Nepalese porter walks with his load from Everest base camp in Nepal
A Nepalese porter walks with his load from Everest base camp in Nepal on May 3, 2011 Laurence Tan—Reuters

Authorities in Nepal have offered to meet with Sherpas working in the Himalayas to negotiate better compensation for those killed or injured while helping mainly foreign climbers conquer the world's highest peaks

The Nepalese government has agreed in principle to meet the demands of the Sherpas set forth Monday, including setting up a relief fund for those injured or killed climbing in the Himalayas.

A government official told the New York Times that a relief fund would be financed by profits the Nepalese government makes from expeditions to Mount Everest. However, he did not specify the precise amount or functioning of the fund.

On Monday, hundreds of Sherpas threatened to cancel the spring climbing season if a list of 12 demands weren’t met by the government within one week.

They are demanding better compensation for the families of the 13 people confirmed killed in an avalanche on the world’s highest mountain last week. Three others are still missing and are unlikely to have survived.

The standard payment by the government is 40,000 rupees, or about $413, to each family, although they also receive around $10,000 from mandatory life-insurance policies. Sherpas also want improved working conditions, such as better pensions and educational assistance.

Tensions are also heating up on Mount Everest, where about 400 foreign climbers and an equal number of guides, as well as many more support staff, have been left in limbo pending the outcome of negotiations.

According to Tim Rippel, one of the expedition leaders currently on the mountain, “things are getting very complicated and there is a lot of tension here and it’s growing.”

“The Sherpa guides are heating up, emotions are running wild and demands are being made to the government to share the wealth with the Sherpa people,” he wrote in a blog post from base camp.

The Nepalese government has said it will negotiate the demands with Sherpa representatives in meetings Tuesday. However, it remains unclear if original demands for around $100,000 per individual killed or disabled could be met by the impoverished nation’s government.

TIME Television

Discovery Channel Cancels Everest Jump After Deadly Avalanche

Relatives of mountaineers, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, cry during the funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal on April 21, 2014.
Relatives of mountaineers, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, cry during the funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal on April 21, 2014. Niranjan Shrestha—AP

The channel has decided not to go ahead with its planned Everest Live Jump, following the deadliest day in Everest history, which killed at least 13 people last week

The Discovery Channel has canceled plans to air a live jump off the summit of Mount Everest following an avalanche that killed at least 13 people on the mountain last week.

“In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mount Everest and out of respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live,” the network said on its website. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community.”

Jumper Joby Ogwyn was already on site preparing for the televised event to air on May 11 when an avalanche killed a group of Sherpa guides and support staff in the deadliest day in the mountain’s history. Ogwyn was unharmed. The Discovery Channel had planned several hours of programming around the jump and hoped it would be a ratings draw, the Associated Press reports.

The Sherpa community is currently threatening to boycott the upcoming climbing season unless the Nepalese government provides more compensation to the families of those killed and injured. Three people are still missing.

TIME Nepal

Everest Climbing Season in Doubt as Sherpas Issue Ultimatum to Authorities

Family members of the Everest avalanche victims light oil lamps at Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 20, 2014. Nepal has called off the search for three local guides still missing, citing weather conditions Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty Images

The local Sherpa community has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Nepalese government, threatening to boycott the upcoming spring climbing season, after a meeting at Mount Everest’s base camp in the wake of last week's deadly avalanche

Nepal’s Sherpa community is calling on the government to provide more compensation to the families of the dead and injured after an avalanche last Friday on the slopes of Mount Everest killed at least 13 guides and support staff. Three climbers are still classified as missing.

On Sunday, a meeting was held at Mount Everest’s base camp, during which local guides, climbers and support staff hammered out a list of 12 demands to be met by the government within a week.

“The emergency joint meeting of guides and support staff, expedition leaders and climbers held at the base camp on April 20 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to address their demands and threaten to stop climbing if the demands are not met,” read a statement by the Nepal Mountaineering Association published on Monday.

Among the demands sent to Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the group called on the state to provide 10 million Nepalese rupee ($103,600) each to families of the deceased and critically injured, along with initiatives to increase the overall support infrastructure for local guides working in the Himalayas.

Sunday’s call to action comes as the Nepalese government mulls calling off the 2014 climbing season on the world’s highest peak. According to the Himalayan Times, a total of 334 mountaineers have been issued permits to attempt to climb Everest this season. If the trips are canceled the Nepalese government is required to reimburse the permits, which cost approximately $10,000 each.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” the Tourism Ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti told journalists, according to the Guardian. “We do not know what to do if they want their tax back. We will hold further discussions before deciding anything on this issue.”

Nepal’s Sherpas are lauded for their ability to withstand high altitudes and are widely regarded as some of the world’s hardiest mountaineers. Members of the ethnic group are the backbone of the Himalayan adventure-tourism industry, where they work as guides, porters and climbers.

However, Sherpas often toil under incredible mental and physical duress in order to maintain lucrative guide positions on Himalaya tour routes frequented by wealthy foreign adventurers.

Since Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary first conquered the world’s highest peak, more than 4,000 climbers have reached the Everest summit. Approximately 200 have died trying to reach the top.

The search mission for the three missing climbers was called off at the weekend because of poor weather conditions.

TIME Nepal

Avalanche Makes For Deadliest Day in Mt. Everest’s History

Nepalese mountaineer, Dawa Tashi Sherpa, survivor of the avalanche on Mount Everest, lies in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Grandi International Hospital in Kathmandu on April 18, 2014.
Nepalese mountaineer, Dawa Tashi Sherpa, survivor of the avalanche on Mount Everest, lies in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Grandi International Hospital in Kathmandu on April 18, 2014. Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty Images

A morning avalanche near a base camp on the world's highest peak has left at least 12 Nepalese guides dead and several others missing. It's being called the deadliest day in the mountain's history

Updated 11:14 a.m. ET

An early-morning avalanche on the slopes of Mount Everest has killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpas and left several more missing on Friday, in what’s being called the deadliest day in the mountain’s history.

A wall of snow overcame the local guides at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning near the mountain’s Camp 2 as they were preparing ropes on the route to the summit ahead of the spring climbing season, the Associated Press reports.

“Rescuers have already retrieved four bodies and they are now trying to pull out two more bodies that are buried under snow,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told AFP.

Sherpas are famous for their ability to weather high altitudes and are widely regarded as some of the best mountaineers in the world. A Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary were the first people to summit the world’s highest peak.

Today, many Sherpas work under incredible pressure, pushing their bodies to their physical limits in order to maintain lucrative guide positions in the service of usually affluent foreign mountaineers, who climb in the Himalayas as a form of adventure tourism.

To date, more than 4,000 climbers have reached Everest’s summit. An estimated 200 have died in the attempt.



Report: Tibetans in Nepal Are Suffering Under Growing Chinese Pressure

Nepal Tibetan Protest
Nepali policemen detain exiled Tibetans participating in a protest outside the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu on March 10, 2014 Niranjan Shrestha—Associated Press

Human Rights Watch says growing Chinese pressure on the Nepali government has led to restrictions and harassment of Tibetans seeking refuge in the country, traditionally a safe haven for those fleeing China's crackdown on religious freedom

Tibetans living in Nepal are facing increased restrictions and harassment because of growing pressure from China, according to a new report.

The report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch says Tibetans who have sought refuge in Nepal are suffering from “routine abuses” by Nepali security forces and a de facto ban on political protests and other activities promoting culture and religion from Tibet.

“Nepal is invoking vague and inconsistent justifications to silence peaceful protest, discriminate against Tibetans and intimidate Nepali civil society activists,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

For decades Nepal has played a crucial role for Tibetans fleeing China’s growing crackdown on religious freedom, but in recent years China has increased pressure on Nepal.

TIME Nepal

Nepal to Mount Everest Trekkers: Pick Up Your Trash

A Nepalese sherpa collects garbage left by climbers at an altitude of 8,000 metres during the Everest clean-up expedition at Mount Everest, on May 23, 2010. Namgyal Sherpa—AFP/Getty Images

Cracking down on litter bugs on the world's tallest peak

As part of a series of overhauls for this year’s trekking season on Mount Everest, Nepal has demanded that climbers bring back their own trash in a bid to keep the roof of the world cleaner.

Kapindra Rai of the mountain’s pollution control committee said that if new climbers made sure to clean up their litter, “we can be assured that no new garbage will be added,” the Associated Press reports. More than 4,000 climbers have reached the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest since New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay did so in 1953.

The volume of climbers has contributed to the waste on the mountain, with of food wrappers and mountain equipment littering part of the routes. Private trekking companies have previously been tasked with cleaning up the garbage left behind by climbers. But experts say it is unclear how much rubbish is still remaining despite these efforts, as it has been covered by ice and snow over the years.

To enforce the new rules, the Nepalese government is setting up the first-ever Everest base camp where officials will ensure that climbers descend with 18 pounds of trash each.


TIME Nepal

Nepal Tightens Security On Mount Everest

Officials want to improve security for climbers trying to conquer the world's tallest peak

Nepal announced Friday it would deploy a team of security officials at Everest base camp in a bid to improve security for climbers on the world’s tallest mountain.

“We will open an office at the base camp with a team of government officials, including the army and police personnel. This will make it easy to resolve any conflicts,” Tourism Ministry official Tilakram Pandey told Reuters.

The move comes after Nepal officials vowed to review security after an unusual brawl broke out between three European climbers and a group of sherpas who were fixing their ropes in April last year. The new office, which will be up and running by the start of the annual climbing season in the spring, will also discourage unnecessary competition between climbers and enforce climbing rules.

More than 4,000 people have stood atop Mount Everest’s 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) peak since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay did so in 1953. Earlier this month, Nepal’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced it would be slashing the fees for climbers during the spring season, prompting concerns from critics that it would lead to further crowding on the mountain.


TIME Nepal

Child Support

At Basnet’s hostel, children learn everything from English and math to painting and taekwondo Sumit Dayal for TIME

Anish was just 5 years old when he went to prison in Nepal. The boy is no criminal—his only transgression was having a mother with a drug addiction. When she was arrested for trafficking, Anish had no choice but to go along with her. “I didn’t like it in there at all,” Anish, now 12, says.

Thankfully, Anish’s ordeal lasted just two months. Today he is thriving at a sanctuary for children with incarcerated mothers and no other family to care for them. “What I like most here is playing with my friends,” he says with a grin. Since 2005, around 160 youngsters like Anish have been spared the horrors of growing up inside the landlocked Himalayan nation’s unforgiving penal system, largely because of the efforts of Pushpa Basnet and her Early Childhood Development Center.

When she was 21 years old, Basnet visited Kathmandu’s main Janana Women’s Prison as part of her studies to be a social worker. What she witnessed shocked her: children being forced to grow up in a central, high-walled courtyard—no cells, just open plan—without proper toilets, bedding or any schooling—all the time mingling with hardened criminals. “I knew I needed to do something,” recalls Basnet.

Nine years have passed since that initial ghastly impression, during which time Basnet has turned a day-care center for four children—three of whom were born behind bars and had never breathed free air—into a three-story residential hostel that currently houses 44 children aged from 13 months to 18 years old. “When I was growing up, I didn’t want for anything,” she says. “I was lucky enough to have these opportunities, and so I want to give the same to them.”

Basnet’s quest began with a cobbled-together $1,000—along with toys, furniture and art supplies scavenged from friends and family—which she used to set up day-care services in a cramped $100-a-week apartment in Kathmandu, Nepal’s sprawling dustbowl capital. “Every day was a struggle to know if we had the money to continue,” she says. Two years later some of the older children had to leave prison and move to an orphanage. (Generally this happens around age 8 or 9, but largely at the discretion of each prison authority.) “But when I saw the orphanage, I was not happy,” says Basnet, who then extended her services to residential care.

Today the younger children get nursery lessons in the spotless hostel—boasting natural craft supplies, a library, comfy bunk beds and mountains of learning toys—while the older kids attend a regular school nearby. All are taught English, math and computer skills, and a range of extra­curricular activities including painting, trekking, camping and taekwondo. “A lot of them have so much anger inside that I think the fighting helps them release it,” says Basnet. (Anish has already gained his yellow belt.)

Yet Basnet’s journey has been far from smooth. “At first the mothers didn’t trust me, as I was so young,” she says. “Jailers would accuse me of trying to sell the children.” At the outset, she harbored misgivings about taking young children away from their mothers. On her first excursion with kids outside the fetid jail, their inquisitive glee at being in new surroundings swiftly transformed into screaming terror as they feared they had been abandoned by their mothers. “At that point I thought that I’d made a big mistake,” says Basnet. Nevertheless, she persevered with short sojourns, and “after two weeks they were so happy to come out from the prison.”

Despite initial reservations, incarcerated mothers became persuaded by Basnet’s ceaseless devotion. Sancha Maya Tamang, 40, gave her 5-month-old daughter to Basnet when she was sent to prison for murdering her abusive husband. “I wasn’t happy, as there were some problems inside the jail and she couldn’t get an education,” she says. “My child was better off outside.”

Devotion does not translate to indulgence, however. Basnet is firm with her charges, convinced that structure and discipline are imperative for troubled children. “If you are a little strict, then they learn to respect you,” she says. “That’s very important in our culture.” Yet she also appreciates that the children under her care need greater understanding than average kids. “I’ve never had to experience what they have had to experience,” she says. “I’ve had a girl who was raped by her father at the age of 5. When I compare my life with theirs, it is something totally different.”

This past Christmas, the children enjoyed a special dinner of roast chicken and sweet treats, along with games, dancing and a bonfire. Humble gifts such as toothbrushes, hairbands and plastic toys were handed out. “We are not a religious organization and have Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu children from villages from all over the country,” says Basnet. “So we used the occasion to learn about each other’s religions.”

Basnet’s work culminated with her being named CNN’s 2012 Hero of the Year, a prize accompanied by $300,000 of vital funding. While she is grateful for the honor, she says that “to get the children out of the prison was the most important thing for me.” The prize money has just been used to purchase land where she intends to build bigger and better facilities to house up to 80 children—space where more young innocents can be liberated from the sins they never committed.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser