News / Asia

Nepal Meets Sherpas' Demands After Deadly Avalanche

A portrait of Ankaji Sherpa, who lost his life in an avalanche at Mount Everest last Friday, is seen near a prayer flag during the cremation ceremony of Nepali Sherpa climbers in Kathmandu, April 21, 2014.
A portrait of Ankaji Sherpa, who lost his life in an avalanche at Mount Everest last Friday, is seen near a prayer flag during the cremation ceremony of Nepali Sherpa climbers in Kathmandu, April 21, 2014.
Reuters
— Nepal's government agreed on Tuesday to compensation demands for Mount Everest sherpas, after the single deadliest avalanche on the world's highest mountain killed at least 13 guides.
 
Expedition leaders said tension was running high at Everest base camp after last Friday's incident, which has rekindled debate on the disproportionate risks that sherpas take helping foreign mountaineers reach the 8,848-meter summit.
 
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told Reuters that although some sherpas had proposed suspending work for the rest of this climbing season, they had now agreed to resume expeditions on Saturday.
 
However, an American climber at base camp said the sherpas had voted to head down and were packing up.
 
“The ice doctors who set the routes say the current route is too dangerous and there are no alternative routes,” said Ed Marzec in an email passed on by a colleague, Daniel Beer, who is overseeing communications for him.
 
“In addition, the famous Lama Geshe told his people that they should not go to the summit because more will die,” Marzec added, referring to the revered Buddhist guru who gives his blessing to Everest climbers.
 
Several expeditions have already been called off, including a Discovery Channel climb to launch a stunt man from the summit in a wing suit.
 
The government said the minimum insurance cover for sherpas on Everest would be raised by 50 percent to about $15,000 and it would establish a relief fund for the welfare of bereaved families and also pay for the education of their children.
 
“We will also take steps to prevent such incidents in the future,” Tourism Minister Bhim Acharya told Reuters.
 
High Risk
 
In addition to the 13 sherpas killed on the Khumbu Icefall, one of the most dangerous parts of the climb to Everest, three are missing and at least three more are being treated for serious injuries in the capital Kathmandu.
 
The men were trying to fix ropes and crack snow and ice to carve out a route for foreign climbers through the icefall, located not far above Everest Base Camp, when they were caught in the avalanche.
 
The government initially announced an immediate payment of $400 to the victims' families to cover funeral costs.
 
After a meeting at base camp on Sunday, sherpas with 31 expeditions demanded $10,000 in compensation for the families of victims and a doubling of insurance cover for climbs, and they agreed to launch protests if their demands were not met.
 
Until now there has been no provision for government compensation for sherpas hired by international expeditions to carry gear, and in the past these groups have provided financial assistance on their own in the case of accidents.
 
Five of 40 sherpas in an expedition organized by hiking group Alpine Ascents were killed in the avalanche.
 
“It's horrible,” said Vern Tejas, a 61-year-old senior guide for the Seattle-based firm who has summited Everest 10 times. “Some of these guys I have been working with for 10-15 years.”
 
He said sherpas expose themselves to far more risk than their clients, moving many times up and down the fragile icefall ferrying loads and fixing lines.
 
Guiding foreign climbers is the main livelihood for sherpas, helping them make up to $7,000 - and some even more - each year in a country with an average annual income of just over $700.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid