Speed Reads

happening now

Sherpas discuss striking after devastating avalanche

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

One of the Sherpas who survived the deadly avalanche on Mt. Everest Friday tells The New York Times that he will never scale the mountain again.

Kaji Sherpa, 39, was one of the 21 native Himalayan guides on the slope-improvement trek that morning, and was apprehensive about the dangerous crossing near Camp Two. He said that two of the ladders that were to take them over crevasses had broken, and the Sherpas were in a traffic jam. The fact that he was staying so far back from the crowd is likely the reason why he made it out alive.

"For me, it is better not to climb from this time onwards," he says. "The Sherpas have suffered a lot."

At least 13 Sherpas died in the avalanche, marking the worst single-day death toll in the history of Mt. Everest. The Sherpas make an average of $3,000 to $5,000 a season, which lasts two to three months; the government of Nepal offered 40,000 rupees (about $410) as compensation to the families of the victims. Unhappy with the offer, many Sherpas are discussing the possibility of not working, which could disrupt or cancel the 334 expeditions scheduled for the current season.

While some climbers told The Times that they no longer wished to finish the trek out of respect to the lost Sherpas, not everyone feels that way. "I don't think this is going to slow down the machine, which will escalate through May," says David Roberts, a climber and author of 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.'... There is even this macho sense of getting back on their horse."