Kathmandu: Sherpa guides in Nepal Monday threatened to boycott this year’s expedition to Mt. Everest if their demands, including for higher compensation for those who perished in last week’s avalanche, are not met.
The Sherpas have demanded that statues of all those killed in Friday’s disaster be installed in the national capital Kathmandu, their families be given a compensation of $10,000 each, and the insurance coverage for Sherpas be doubled to $20,000.
“If these demands are not met, we will be forced to strike,” read a statement of Sherpa guides and high-altitude workers after they met at the Everest base camp Monday. Dawa Steven Sherpa, a veteran mountaineer, is leading the agitating Sherpa group.
Nepal’s ministry of tourism has, however, urged the sturdy Sherpas, the mainstay of the country’s mountaineering industry, to resume their work.
“Since this season, we have increased the insurance coverage of Sardars from $5,000 to $10,000, climbing guides will get $10,000 instead of $4,000, base camp workers will receive $5,000 instead of $2,500 and medical insurance has been increased from $500 to $3,000,” said the ministry statement.
The Nepal government is committed to make mountaineering on the Everest more secure, credible and attractive, it added.
“Some Sherpas have left the Everest base camp to attend funerals of their friends, no one has abandoned the expedition,” said Madhusudan Buralkoti, chief of mountaineering division of Nepal’s tourism ministry.
“Yes, they (Sherpas) are grief stricken but it doesn’t mean that entire Everest expedition has been called off,” Buralakoti added.
About 300 mountaineers belonging to 15 expedition groups, gathered at the Everest base camps waiting for weather to improve, decided to return Sunday, declaring 2014 as a “black year” in the history of mountaineering.
A meeting of Sherpas and high-altitude workers Sunday also decided to halt for a week all the mountaineering activities in view of the inclement weather on the world’s highest peak.
Thirteen people, including 12 Sherpa guides, were killed Friday at the elevation of nearly 5,900 metres while three others are still missing, according to Nepal’s ministry of tourism. They had gone to fix ropes ahead of this year’s summer climbing season.