Everest toll reaches 13; three still missing

The death toll in the deadliest avalanche on Mt Everest today reached 13 with rescuers recovering one more body of a mountaineering guide from the incident site this afternoon. Officials said the chance of finding three more, who have gone […]

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Climbers cancel Everest expeditions

Distraught Nepalese guides and climbers have cancelled expeditions on Mount Everest after at least 13 colleagues died in an avalanche.

At the same time anger is mounting over poor payments for sherpas who take huge risks on the world’s highest peak.

Sherpas, already grief-stricken over the loss of colleagues, have told AFP they are considering whether to halt climbs to protest at pay and poor welfare provisions.

The bodies of 13 local sherpa guides have been pulled from the snow and another three are thought to be still buried in the avalanche which hit on Friday morning, the worst single accident in the mountain’s history.

Another nine were rescued alive from the avalanche, which struck the group of sherpas as they hauled gear up the mountain for international climbers who were waiting at Everest base camp below.

Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International, which lost four sherpas in the accident with another still missing, has decided to cancel its expedition, according to its sirdar (sherpa captain).

“We have lost five members of our team. To respect them, we will not be going ahead with our expedition,” said Lakpa Rita Sherpa, who has summitted Everest 17 times.

“This was one of the worst days on the mountain and all those who died are sherpas, so many of those left don’t want to go ahead,” Lakpa said today from base camp.

US-based Discovery Channel also cancelled an expedition after losing its team of sherpas in the accident, it said in a statement.

The channel was planning a live broadcast of the first winged jumpsuit flight off the summit.

Other teams still at base camp are weighing up whether to go ahead with their expeditions, with many too distraught to climb.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said sherpas want the Government to set up a welfare fund for guides and their families, using part of the fees paid by clients.

“It’s not about stopping expeditions. But they have demands that need to be fulfilled,” Ang, whose national body represents tourism promoters, told AFP.

Some of the sherpas and their families are angry about the Nepali government’s offer of 40,000 rupees (about $A440) to pay for the funeral expenses of those killed, calling it a disrespectful gesture.

Sherpas, an ethnic group known for their skills on the mountain, earn between $A3,211 to $A6,423 a season. But life insurance payments currently only go up to $A10,706.

The disaster underscores the huge risks borne by sherpas who ascend the icy slopes, often before dawn and usually weighed down by tents, ropes and food for their clients, who pay tens of thousands of dollars to scale the mountain.

The cancellations are likely to have an impact on the impoverished Himalayan country’s economy. It relies on tourism for revenue, earning millions of dollars in annual climbing fees from Everest alone.

More than 300 people, most of them local guides, have died on Everest since the first ascent to the summit by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

The previous worst accident on the 8,848-metre peak was in 1996 when eight people were killed during a storm.

source: AFP

Discovery network cancels Everest jump

NEW YORK: The Discovery Network is canceling a daredevil’s planned jump off the summit of Mount Everest in a wing suit next month following the avalanche that killed at least 13 people on Friday. Network spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said Sunday that the network’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Sherpa community of guides who were the victims of the avalanche.Jumper Joby Ogwyn already was at Everest in advance of the jump, which was scheduled to be televised live on May 11 worldwide. He was not injured in the avalanche. Discovery had hoped for big ratings with the stunt, and had scheduled several hours of coverage in anticipation.
Source: The Himalayan Times

Everest avalanche: Search mission called off citing ‘too much risk’

Search operation for three Sherpa guides missing in the Everest avalanche has been called off due to ‘too much risk’ involved. A meeting of expedition operating agencies and guide associations on Saturday night decided not to conduct the search mission, saying it was almost “impossible” to retrieve the three remaining bodies buried underneath the snow.

Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, secretary at the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association, said the bodies were buried around 80-100 metres deep into the snow. “It is impossible to retrieve the bodies due to heavy block of ice on the site,” he said, adding that continuous snowfall in the region has compounded the situation.

Sixteen high-altitude Sherpa guides, including base camp cooks, had perished in the avalanche on Friday morning, the deadliest mountaineering accident ever on the world’s highest peak. So far, 13 bodies have been retrieved. Out of the nine injured, seven sustaining serious injuries are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the Capital.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Mountaineering Association  has arranged a funeral procession of the deceased mountaineers on Monday.  The NMA and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal have decided to extend Rs 50,000 in financial assistance to families of the deceased and Rs 35,000 each for the injured. The Expedition Operators’ Association has announced Rs 25,000 for each of the bereaved families and Rs 15,000 for the injured.

On Sunday, mountaineering and guide agencies decided to suspend all climbing activities for the next seven days. Declaring this year as ‘Black Everest year’, they are unsure whether to continue with Everest expeditions this season. “We will wait for a week to decide whether the spring expedition should be continued,” said Pasang Tenzing Sherpa. A technical committee headed by Dawa Stephen Sherpa has been tasked to look into the matter.

“The committee will make a decision based on the safety and security situation,” he said, adding that the associations would ask the government to refund the royalty fee paid by the climbers or allow them to climb the Everest with the same permit next season if the expeditions are called off this season.

More than 400 climbers have reached the Everest base camp to acclimatise themselves. Climbing begins in mid-May depending on the weather condition. Last year, of the 678 climbers who obtained permits, 567 reached the summit.

Source: ekantipur

Everest toll reaches 13; three still missing

The death toll in the deadliest avalanche on Mt Everest today reached 13 with rescuers recovering one more body of a mountaineering guide from the incident site this afternoon. Officials said the chance of finding three more, who have gone missing in the debris, alive, was almost nil as search continued in the Khumbu icefall area which was hit by an avalanche at 5,900 metres yesterday morning.Rescuers had recovered twelve bodies yesterday. According to Madhusudan Burlakoti, spokesperson at Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dorjee Khatri’s body was dug out and search for the missing is under way. “Pemba Tenji Sherpa, Aash Bahadur Gurung and Tenzing Chhotar Sherpa are still missing.” Six bodies of the deceased were airlifted to Kathmandu and handed over to their kin after post-mortem. Relatives received seven more bodies from Lukla area, Burlakoti said, adding that the four who were injured are undergoing treatment in hospitals in Kathmandu and are out of danger.Under-secretary at the ministry Krishna Lamsal told this daily from Everest Base Camp area that six icefall doctors and nearly 40 support staff of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee have headed to the avalanche site to refix the ladders and ropes damaged by the avalanche. “It’s uncertain how much time it will take to refix the ladders and ropes on the route,” he said, adding it might affect the summit schedule of climbers. According entrepreneurs, some foreigners are reconsidering their bid, owing to the death of their guide.
Helicopters of the Nepali Army and private companies are on standby to support the search and rescue mission. American Alpine Club said it has set up a fund to support the families of the deceased.
Source: The Himalayan Times

At least six dead in Everest avalanche

A deadly avalanche on Mount Everest is believed to have avoided any New Zealanders on the world’s tallest mountain.

Six Nepalese guides are dead and nine other people – believed to also be Nepali – are missing, a Nepal tourism official told the Associated Press (AP).

The avalanche struck just below Camp 2 around 6.30am today local time (12.45pm NZT), Nepal Tourism Ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti said.

Rescuers, climbers from base camp and a helicopter from Kathmandu have headed to the area to help.

The avalanche swept through the area known as the “popcorn field”, 6400 meters above sea level, AP reported.

A spokesperson for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the ministry was aware of the avalanche reports.

“The New Zealand Honorary Consul in Kathmandu has been liaising with the local authorities and base camp companies.

“There are no indications at this stage that any New Zealanders have been affected by the avalanche. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to monitor this situation.”

The ministry had 69 New Zealanders registered as being in Nepal.

Wanaka-based Adventure Consultants’ general manager Suze Kelly said the company had an expedition of climbers on Everest and were awaiting more information.

The expedition team should be safe at Everest Base Camp, however the company may have Sherpas higher up the mountain, she said.

“I’m just waiting on further updates to see if our teams are involved or not … it is the time of year when they are stocking the camps higher on the mountain, so no one actually stays on the mountain.

“Our main team has just arrived at Base Camp, so they are all in Base Camp. But there are Sherpas … who set-up camp with the loads that they carry.

“Other teams are on different schedules. There could be some teams who actually had some climbers on the mountain, but all our climbers are in Base Camp.”

New Zealand Mountain Guides Association chairman Steve Moffat said he was aware of New Zealanders being on the mountain, however they too were at Base Camp and weren’t due to ascend the mountain for at least another week.

More than 4000 climbers had scaled Everest’s summit since it was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Hundreds of others had died in the attempt.

source: APNZ