People, Travel

Despite Disasters, Trekkers Still Scaling Mount Everest

Despite Disasters, Trekkers Still Scaling Mount EverestDespite Disasters, Trekkers Still Scaling Mount Everest

When the earthquake struck last year and thousands of tons of snow and ice and earth came crashing down the mountain, some feared the climbers might never return to Mount Everest.

But despite back-to-back Everest disasters — the 2015 earthquake and a massive avalanche the year before — hundreds of mountaineers have come back for a new season. With them, they bring millions of dollars to this poverty-wracked nation, AP reported.

Everest Base Camp has once again turned into a village of bright nylon tents and tea huts. It buzzes with commerce — trekkers on stopovers and mountaineers hoping to reach the 8,850-meter summit.

While the numbers of trekkers across Nepal is down about 40% compared to last year, the business community still sees that as good news.

“This is much more than what we all had expected,” said Pemba Sherpa, who runs a guesthouse in the village of Pheriche, about a day’s walk from Base Camp. “The climbers and trekkers who have reached here are very happy — satisfied at the condition of the mountain and not scared anymore.”

The April 2014 avalanche, which killed 13 Sherpa guides and three other Nepali workers, was an immense blow to the Sherpa community.

Nearly all surviving Sherpas refused to continue working that year, demanding, among other things, better working conditions, more insurance and free education for the children of those killed. The government met most of their major demands, including requiring expeditions to insure Sherpas for up to $15,000. But the season was effectively cancelled.

Pemba Sherpa is just hoping this year passes quietly: “If there are any problems this year, then we are all finished. It will all end.”

Experience has shown, though, that there is always the possibility of more trouble on Everest. More than 250 people have died on the mountain, which was first summited by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953.