More teams withdraw, Nepal's Everest season in jeopardy

Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:04am EDT
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By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Several foreign climbing expeditions have called off attempts to scale Everest following an avalanche that killed at least 13 local guides, meaning Nepal faces an entire season without a single ascent of the mountain for the first time in decades.

The toll from last Friday's accident was the highest in a single day in Everest history, and many Sherpas who are angry over their treatment at the hands of foreign mountaineers and the government have refused to guide visitors up the climb.

Three Sherpas are still missing since an avalanche struck while they were fixing ropes and cracking snow and ice to carve out a route for foreign climbers through the Icefall, near the base camp for most climbs on the Nepali side of the mountain.

The U.S.-based International Mountain Guides (IMG) became the largest team to pull out in response to the tragedy. It had around 40 climbers in three teams on the mountain.

"The Icefall route is currently unsafe for climbing without repairs by the Icefall doctors, who will not be able to resume their work this season," the group said on its website.

"We have explored every option and can find no way to safely continue the expedition."

The Peak Freaks Everest 2014 expedition also pulled out for safety reasons, and said that the Nepalese government had officially closed Everest for the season.

But Sushil Ghimire, a senior bureaucrat at the tourism ministry, said some teams may yet decide to attempt to scale the summit. Foreign expeditions on the Tibetan side of the mountain remained unaffected.   Continued...

Mount Everest (C), the world's highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen from air during a mountain flight from Kathmandu, in this file picture taken April 24, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Chong/Files