More than 60 years ago, the first explorers to climb Mount Everest and live to tell the tale were sealed into the history books as adventurous and courageous individuals, capable of conquering anything. Since, many have perished while climbing the slopes of the world’s highest mountain, including 16 sherpas in April, 2014.
Now, as the number of adventurers heading to Mount Everest in 2015 grows, officials have decided to close off the deadliest route of the mountain in an effort to protect the lives of both guides and climbers, the Washington Post reports. Sherpas, or guides, play a critical role in ensuring the safety of everyone scaling the mountain’s slippery sides, and are motivated to get through the dangerous season as it pays handsomely.
The avalanche that occurred in 2014 was not unlike previous tragedies on Mount Everest, as the Inquisitr previously discussed. A survivor of the 2014 avalanche, a 39-year old sherpa, was miraculously saved from suffering the same fate as his 16 friends because of a small hill preventing his fall. As NPR reported, the survivor has since decided living was more important than making money, and returned to a subdued life of farming after vowing never to return to Mount Everest.
Mount Everest’s “West Shoulder,” considered much more dangerous than the central route, is characterized by large, towering ice shoulders and unpredictable shifting. To avoid more deaths in 2015, climbers will be guided via the central route, which is believed to be more stable. Because sherpas are responsible for everything from anchoring ropes to carrying equipment, the additional burden puts sherpas in harm’s way during the 2-month expedition season.
From March until May, Sherpas will serve as guides to visitors who want to experience the exhilaration of climbing Mount Everest. After last year’s tragedy, sherpas were responsible for the closure of Mount Everest, reported National Geographic. Between the community’s mourning of the fallen and the ongoing political battle between Sherpas and Nepal’s government over proper compensation, the potential to explore Mount Everest ended prematurely in 2014.
With the 2015 season quickly approaching, Sherpas are reminded of last year and the petitions made to Nepal’s government for proper compensation. In an interview with the New York Times, a sherpa experienced with the dangers of Mount Everest admitted, “The day-to-day life is very tense. We never know what will happen. So we are not at peace. It’s a scary profession, a scary job.” Hopefully, the change in climbing route will help Sherpas feel more confident about surviving the season.