After 16 Mount Everest guides were killed in an avalanche last Friday, the rest of the Sherpas have decided to quit the mountain and go on strike.
The Mount Everest Sherpas announced Tuesday that they will abandon the rest of the climbing season to memorialize their 16 colleagues killed in last week’s avalanche.
“We had a long meeting this afternoon and we decided to stop our climbing this year to honor our fallen brothers,” said sherpa Tulsi Gurung.
Well, that and the Sherpas wanted to stick it to the Nepalese government for refusing to offer better compensation to avalanche victims’ families. After the Sherpas discussed going on strike, drumming up a bit of Sherpa publicity in the process, government officials in Nepal finally agreed to meet with them and create a relief fund for those killed or injured.
Originally, Nepal was only going to offer about $413 to families of the dead Sherpas but the Sherpas took this opportunity to demand better rescue and treatment facilities for guides and a higher share of revenue from foreign climbers.
The Nepalese government earns millions of dollars each year in fees for climbing permits and some guiding companies charge up to $60,000 per person. The Sherpas typically make between $3,000 and $6,000 in the three-month Everest climbing season. Not bad for Nepal, but not great considering they have to risk their lives everyday hiking up and down a snowy, avalanche-prone, oxygen-starved mountain.
Meanwhile, about half the teams at Everest base camp are descending amid uncertainty over this year’s climbing season and the fear that they will be stuck on top of a mountain without a Sherpa. And without a Sherpa, there’s a good chance they’ll end up like this: