Sherpa Safety

everest ERLast week there was an avalanche on Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. That label doesn’t seem to stop people from climbing the huge landmark, but after 13 of their comrades died in the tragedy last week the Sherpa guides in Nepal have been threatening to boycott this season’s adventures.

Without these guides, climbing Mt. Everest would be near impossible. This boycott is a tricky topic for many in the Sherpa community, as they rely heavily on Everest climbs to make money to support their family. A boycott would eliminate all that potential income, though it might send a strong message to the government, who the Sherpa’s say needs to start treating them better.

The government of Nepal has said they would provide the families of the fallen Sherpa’s 40,000 rupees ($415) for the funeral costs but the community is looking for more than that. Their accident and compensation insurance did double from roughly $5,000 to about $10,000 in the beginning of 2014 but the Sherpa’s are asking that the minimum payment be raised to $20,800.

After the worst death toll on the mountain and with three still missing, the pressure from the Sherpa community on the government has increased. Over the years, they have continued to argue that the government makes a whole lot more money off the mountaineering industry than they do, yet they are the ones who suffer the consequences of a dangerous profession.

Data from the Himalayan Database and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that being an Everest Sherpa ranks among the top most dangerous professions around. For a good visual comparison, check out this chart from Outside Magazine. It only measure data until 2010 but fatalities have been rising since then, at least 17 this year alone.

sherpa fatality chart

According to the Sherpa’s, the government is doing next to nothing to compensate them for tragedies in their line of work and this (potential) boycott could be a wake-up call to the government to do something about it and make sure that families are taken care of should the unthinkable occur again.

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