On Mount Everest today, dozens of Sherpas packed up their gear and left base camp, angry over the deaths of at least 13 colleagues in an avalanche last week and the lack of response to their demands going forward.
The Nepalese government is rushing top tourism officials to the mountain to meet with Sherpas tomorrow.
There’s big money involved in Everest climbing. The government takes in millions in royalties and mountaineering companies charge people up to $75,000 to go there. The Sherpas make more than the average Nepalese, but only some $3,000 to $5,000 a climbing season.
Adrian Ballinger, founder and lead climber for Alpenglow Expeditions based in Lake Tahoe, is at the Everest base camp, where he says the atmosphere is “tense and really emotional.”
Ballinger tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that many Sherpas feel the mountain, which is sacred to them, is telling them it should not be climbed this year. He says other Sherpas are using the avalanche tragedy to leverage better wages and conditions.
- Adrian Ballinger, founder and lead climber for Alpenglow Expeditions. He has reached the summit of Everest six times.