Fresh avalanches dash last hopes for blighted Everest season

Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:01am EDT
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By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Fresh ice avalanches struck on a perilous route where 16 Everest sherpas were killed last week, hiking officials said on Friday, making it almost certain that no one will summit the world's highest mountain from Nepal during this year's climbing season.

"Teams are leaving, it's over for all," said leading climber Alan Arnette on his website. "Time to mourn and regroup."

Many expeditions abandoned base camp this week after an April 18 avalanche killed 16 guides who were cracking ice and fixing ropes on the upper reaches of the Khumbu Icefall.

The single deadliest disaster on the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) Himalayan mountain, the incident has shocked the mountaineering community and highlighted the disproportionate risks that Nepali guides run for a few thousand dollars to help foreign climbers reach the summit.

Californian mountain guide Adrian Ballinger said that even before the latest avalanches, there had been an exodus of teams from base camp due to the aggressive behavior of a group of younger sherpas there.

He said these sherpas were determined to ensure that no one scaled Everest from the south side during this year's climbing season, which ends around May 25. It would be the first year of no summits since commercial climbs took off in the mid-1990s, though there will be attempts on the north side from Tibet.

"I could see fresh avalanches falling at the same spot that was hit last week," Ang Tshering Sherpa of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) said in Kathmandu after returning from base camp. No one was hurt in the latest avalanches as there was no one on the unstable Khumbu Icefall.

Ed Marzec, a 67-year-old Californian who had hoped to become the oldest American to scale Everest, said there was a "crack" of ice as he was waiting on Thursday for a plane to take him off base camp.   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