Trek at Own Risk; Sherpa Guides Unite, Abandon Mt Everest Climbing Season (PHOTOS)

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa
April 23, 2014 1:26 PM EST

Meaning to Go Up Mt Everest this Year? Trek at Own Risk. Sherpa Guides Unite, Abandon Climbing Season (PHOTOS)

The lucrative Mt Everest climbing season about to start in mid-May has been cast into doubt as sherpa guides united on Tuesday to abandon 2014's climbing activity, following the death of 16 comrades by an avalanche on Friday.

It is the Nepalese sherpas who perform the majority of the essential tasks needed to conquer the 8,848-metre mountain, including carrying equipment, food, repairing ladders and fixing ropes to reduce the risks for their foreign mountaineers clients.

"We had a long meeting this afternoon and we decided to stop our climbing this year to honour our fallen brothers. All sherpas are united in this," local guide Tulsi Gurung told AFP from base camp.

"Some guides have already left and others will take about a week to pack up everything and go," Mr Gurung, whose brother is among those missing after the avalanche, said.

The abandon decision effectively jeopardises the plans of foreign mountaineers who meant to conquer the treacherous mountain and had paid at least $90,000 just for that.

"It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing while there are three of our friends buried in the snow," Dorje Sherpa told AP. "I can't imagine stepping over them," referring to the three Sherpa guides who still remain buried in ice and snow and presumed dead. Thirteen bodies have been recovered.

It was New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay who first conquered the Mount Everest summit in 1953. Since then thousands have trekked up the treacherous mountain, but only few managed to conquer it, much more live to tell it.

Ed Marzec, an American climber told AFP from base camp, said the sherpas' decision to abandon this year's climbing season stemmed from the desire to pay respect to their colleagues. Compensation was just a minor issue.

"They have decided that compensation is not the only issue, they feel like they have to close down Everest this year as a memorial to those who died," Mr Marzec said.

The sherpas have asked the Nepalese government to shell out $US10,000 each to be paid to families of the guides killed in the avalanche, including those who were injured and can no longer work anymore.

Sherpas earn between $US3,000 to $US6,000 per season.

"We want to honour the members we lost and out of respect for them we just can't continue," Dorje said.

Weather is most favourable in mid-May at Mount Everest. It is during these times that most attempts are made.

One expedition company has cancelled this season's attempt for its six-member team.

"Our team members have empathy for the Sherpa community and we wish for everyone to be able to mourn their lost family and friends in peace," the Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition 2014 Team said on its Web site.

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