On Tuesday, Mt. Everest’s Sherpa guides, voted to end the 2014 climbing season entirely. This is following the recent tragedy of their 16 colleagues, who lost their lives on the first climbing day of the year. Majority of the guides have already left the mountain in mourning for their colleagues, and others will soon follow suit.
Previously, the Sherpa’s threatened to quit this season unless the government awarded them higher compensation for their risky jobs. However, since the tragedy, they feel that quitting this season is their way of honoring the dead. Pasang Sherpa told the APF “How can we step on it now? Sixteen people have died on this mountain on the first day of our climb.”
Each season, the Sherpa’s are the first to climb Mt. Everest to prepare the way for the recreational climbing season in the spring. It’s extremely dangerous and the guides have argued for some time now, that the insurance payouts from the government in the event of a disaster are not nearly enough for the nature of their work. They also requested additional regulations to protect them. The APF stated that the “Nepalese government makes a profit off of the permits it sells to tourists and adventurers who want to climb the world’s highest peak.”
The annual climbing season is vital to the economic well-being of the ethnic Sherpa community, so a vote to shut down an entire season is not something the Sherpas would have taken lightly. Friday’s tragedy was the deadliest avalanche in the history of Mount Everest.