Nepal government meets sherpas' demands after deadly avalanche

Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:31am EDT
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By Gopal Sharma and John Chalmers

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's government agreed on Tuesday to compensation demands for Mount Everest sherpas, after the single deadliest avalanche on the world's highest mountain killed at least 13 guides.

Expedition leaders said tension was running high at Everest base camp after last Friday's incident, which has rekindled debate on the disproportionate risks that sherpas take helping foreign mountaineers reach the 8,850-metre summit.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told Reuters that although some sherpas had proposed suspending work for the rest of this climbing season, they had now agreed to resume expeditions on Saturday.

However, an American climber at base camp said the sherpas had voted to head down and were packing up.

"The ice doctors who set the routes say the current route is too dangerous and there are no alternative routes," said Ed Marzec in an email passed on by a colleague, Daniel Beer, who is overseeing communications for him.

"In addition, the famous Lama Geshe told his people that they should not go to the summit because more will die," Marzec added, referring to the revered Buddhist guru who gives his blessing to Everest climbers.

Several expeditions have already been called off, including a Discovery Channel climb to launch a stunt man from the summit in a wing suit.

The government said the minimum insurance cover for sherpas on Everest would be raised by 50 percent to about $15,000 and it would establish a relief fund for the welfare of bereaved families and also pay for the education of their children.   Continued...

Family members comfort the daughter of Ankaji Sherpa, who lost his life in an avalanche at Mount Everest last Friday, during the cremation ceremony of Nepali Sherpa climbers in Kathmandu April 21, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar