Shelby: At nearly 30,000 feet, Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world, almost as high as commercial airplanes fly. Every May, climbers from around the world make the dangerous trek trying to reach the top. But now, the single deadliest accident ever on Mount Everest has put many expeditions on hold. Demetrius Pipkin explains.
Demetrius: With no warning, a wall of snow and ice swept over the western shoulder of Mount Everest early Friday morning. The avalanche killed at least 13 people. Several are still missing.
Ben Jones is a guide with the Alpine Ascents. He lost five of his colleagues.
Ben Jones: I really couldn’t stop crying. A lot of these guys are related and they’ve lost brothers and fathers and cousins and everything today.
Demetrius: The victims were all local guides known as Sherpas. The Sherpas are an ethnic group that live in the mountainous region of Nepal known as the Himalayas. They are expert mountaineers and are often used by explorers from all over the world to climb up the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, which reaches over 29,000 feet above sea level.
The Sherpas are the backbone of Everest expeditions, heading up the mountain first, carrying food and supplies for foreign climbers who can pay as much as $100,000 to climb Everest. Avalanches, altitude sickness, lack of oxygen and brutal cold are simply part of the Sherpas’ working life.
Grayson Schaffer: Being a Sherpa is the most dangerous job you can do anywhere.
Demetrius: They can earn up to $5,000 for a two-month expedition, ten times what an average person in their country would make all year. And without them no one would make it to the top.
After this disaster some are pushing for a boycott on climbing the mountain. The Sherpas want Nepal’s government to provide more help and financial aid for the victims and they are demanding new rules to protect their rights. The government brings in about $3 million in climbing fees each year.
More than 4,000 people have scaled Mount Everest since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Hundreds have died trying.
Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.
Shelby: To learn more about Mount Everest and the country of Nepal, head over the ChannelOne.com.