Just a few weeks after the worst accident in Mount Everest’s history, Nepalese Sherpas have decided to end the season early for this Spring. On April 18th 16 guides were killed during an avalanche. While thirteen bodies have been recovered, three more are still trapped in ice. More ginormous blocks of ice fell over Mount Everest in recent days. Climbers were not in the area, but the recent ice fall forced the decision to close climbing season for 2014.
Experienced Mount Everest climber and leader of the Alpenglow climbing team, Adrian Ballinger feels that the threat of falling ice is a good reason to cancel the entire season. “That’s ridiculous,” Ballinger said, adding “I would say only a very small percentage of teams canceled due to fear of increased danger in the icefall this season.”
The team of Sherpas lost their lives in the Khumbu Icefall, which is known as one of, if not the most dangerous part of the South Col route to the top of Mount Everest. The Khumbu glacier slides down Mount Everest at up to 4 feet per day. Large crevasses can open nearly instantly, and large boulders, the size of houses can shoot from the opening in an instant.
Ballinger said of the Khumbu Icefall, “Small and large avalanches and collapses occur regularly. I have not seen myself, nor heard from any of my Sherpas, that there has been an increase in the frequency or severity of avalanches or icefalls this season – although obviously one slide had much greater than normal consequences.”
Sherpas, the native people of Mount Everest and other high ground in Nepal, are known world wide as the elite mountain climbers and, of course, experts of their local mountain ranges including Mount Everest. Sherpas were integral in the success of the first Himilayan explorers from all over the world, today the word “Sherpa” is used to describe a person who may be a mentor or a guide.
Alan Arnette, a Mount Everest enthusiast and veteran who is world renowned for extreme climbing understands the Sherpas position ending the Mount Everest season due to religious, safety and economic reasons. With the recent tragedy at Khumbu Icefall, some of the more religious Sherpas believe that Mount Everest is exacting revenge on climbers. Younger Sherpas are looking to flex their muscle with the older, more experienced Sherpas and it was important for them to show that they are able to shut down the southside of Mount Everest as they see fit.
Three days ago, Sherpas petitioned the Nepal Ministry of Tourism to reform and adjust guide benefits, to compensate for the danger of scaling Mount Everest.