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Sherpas Contemplate Strike after Everest Disaster

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes | about 4 months ago

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Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Three days have passed since an avalanche killed at least 13 Sherpas as they carried gear for international expedition groups in the worst single-day death toll in the mountain’s history. Now the NYT reports that disappointed at the Nepali government’s offer of 40,000 rupees, or about $408, as compensation for the families of the dead, some Sherpas gathered at Everest’s base camp proposed a “work stoppage” that could disrupt or cancel the 334 expeditions planned for the 2014 climbing season and more than 300 Sherpas have signed a petition to the Nepalese government saying that Everest summit attempts should be suspended this year out of respect for the dead. They also asked the government — which takes in $3.3 million a year in Everest climbing fees alone — to increase work death benefits to $10,000 from the current $400, cover medical costs for injuries sustained while climbing and provide disability benefits. “Sherpas are the backbone of Mount Everest expeditions, but the government neglects them,” says Mingma Sherpa, a mountaineering entrepreneur.

The tension promises to heighten when groups of Sherpas plan to carry the bodies of their dead colleagues through the streets of Katmandu, Nepal’s capital. Members of the ethnic group are the backbone of the Himalayan adventure-tourism industry, where they work as guides, porters and climbers. Many of the international commercial teams still at the base camp are weighing whether to continue their push to the summit or abandon their expeditions. Everest is attracting more climbers each year, most of them members of groups that pay professional Western guides to lead them up the mountain. Clients prepare for months or years, often investing tens of thousands of dollars, and some experts said they would be unlikely to turn around. “I don’t think this is going to slow down the machine, which will escalate through May,” said David Roberts, a climber and the author of several books about climbing. “Even though it is the greatest tragedy in the history of Everest, right now at base camp they are saying, ‘This is a tragedy, but we have paid all this money to get here.’ ”"

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