Mount Everest shut as sherpas won’t rebuild route

SHERPAS in Nepal have refused to rebuild a climbing route on Mount Everest that was destroyed by an earthquake-triggered avalanche more than a week ago – a decision likely to end this year’s climbing season.

Rescuers carry the injured from base camp after the Everest avalanches. Picture: AFP/Getty
Rescuers carry the injured from base camp after the Everest avalanches. Picture: AFP/Getty

Gyanendra Shrestha, an official at Nepal’s mountaineering department, said the sherpas informed his office yesterday that they were not going to rebuild the route because of safety and time reasons.

It would be the second consecutive year that the climbing season has been called off because of deaths on the world’s highest peak. The season was cancelled last year after an avalanche killed 16 sherpa guides.

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Mountaineering teams have until the end of this month to climb the peak, but without the route being fixed it is not possible for them. The sherpas play a crucial role by carrying the ladders, ropes and equipment needed to clear the trail.

Kapindra Rai, of the Sagarmatha pollution control committee, which controls the “icefall doctors”, as the sherpas who prepare the route are called, said the area was too dangerous and there was not much time left in the season before it began to get warmer and melting ice and monsoon rains brought bad conditions.

“It is just not possible to rebuild the route in time for climbers to attempt to scale the peak,” he said.

The government has not formally cancelled the season and climbing permits are valid until the end of May.

Climbers and sherpas attempting to reach the summit from the north face of the mountain in Tibet have already packed their gear and left after Chinese authorities closed all climbing for the spring season.

The sherpas are paid daily wages, and they will also lose big bonuses they generally receive from the teams after successful climbs to the peak.

The 25 April earthquake has killed more than 7,300 people in Nepal, flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings and archaeological sites in Kathmandu.

British rescuers have played a key role in the relief effort which has followed the Nepal earthquake. Highlights of the work done by a UK International Search and Rescue team deployed by the Department for International Development included taking a four-year-old girl with a serious leg injury to a field hospital for treatment and treating a young boy’s broken arm using a plastic bottle as a splint.

The team also successfully removed the remnants of an overhanging brick-built column from a teaching hospital.

Meanwhile, actress Joanna Lumley says she is “so proud” of the UK’s response to the earthquake after donations soared following a public campaign to raise funds for the disaster area.

The actress and Gurkha campaigner has fronted an appeal for Nepal which has passed £33 million in just a few days.

Lumley said: “It’s quite incredible. On the very first day the appeal was sent out, back came £19m, nearly £20m.

“I am so proud of our country.”