Everest disaster: Spring ascent now at the mercy of climbers

Everest disaster: Spring ascent now at the mercy of climbers

The 2014 Everest expedition is likely to be a year of choice for the climbers. The message is: climb if you can, pack up and go home if you can't.

The situation has emerged due to a divide in the climbers' groups resulting from the single deadliest mountaineering accident last Friday that claimed 16 high-altitude guides and injured nine.

High-altitude guides at the Everest Base Camp say that climbing the world's tallest peak this season is now the call of the climbers themselves.

"Climbing will depend on foreign climbers' choice," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association."The guides have requested the government not to exert pressure on any climber.

The ones who want to leave will leave and those who want to climb will climb," he said, after his return from the Everest region on Thursday noon.

In the high-level meeting at Everest Base Camp, Tourism Minister Bhim Acharya was requested to extend the climbing permit of foreign mountaineers who quit the ascent this season for up to five years so that they could climb Everest once whenever it suits in the period.

Foreigners pay the Nepal government between US$15,000 (S$18,900) and US$70,000 (S$88,000) per expedition depending on the number of members-maximum seven-and the route. For a group of as large as 15 climbers, the royalty is US$10,000 per person.

Acharya is positive about the demand and has assured climbers and guides of taking the proposal to the Cabinet.

"The demand clearly indicates that there are a number of climbers who want to quit the spring mission," said Lam Babu Sherpa, the technical committee coordinator of the Nepal National Mountain Guides' Association.

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