In the wake of last week’s deadly avalanche on the treacherous Khumbu Icefall portion of the world’s tallest mountain, the Everest, the local Sherpa guides that help thousands of climbers each year ascend the massive peak have called on the local government to heed their demands or they will stop serving as tour guides.
This past Friday, April 18, 2014, a massive avalanche was suddenly triggered on the Khumbu Icefall of Mount Everest, burying several dozen sherpa guides that were making their way up the mountain carrying oxygen tanks, tents and other mountaineering equipment. 13 of the guides have been confirmed dead and three others remain missing as rescuers are continuing to dig through the snow in an attempt to find the missing sherpas.
The avalanche, the deadliest ever on Mount Everest, has rallied the Nepal Mountaineering Association to threaten a strike during this season’s climbing season. The threat of the strike comes in a 7-day ultimatum signed by over three hundred sherpas to the Nepalese government. In the ultimatum, the sherpas set forth a long list of demands. Among the most important is the demand that the government, which collects $3.3 million each year in climbing fees from Mount Everest climbers, pay $10,000 to the families of the dead and missing guides. Other demands from the government for guides include: medical and disability benefits, more insurance coverage, more rescue helicopters and rescue stations, and better logistical support.
The demands and the threat of a strike has brought divisions within the sherpa community, as some are afraid of losing their primary means of income. A massive strike by the guides would endanger this year’s climbing season and potentially cost the Nepalese government millions of dollars in lost revenue.
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