KATHMANDU, APR 21 – Search operation for three Sherpa guides missing in the Everest avalanche has been called off due to ‘too much risk’ involved.
A meeting of expedition operating agencies and guide associations on Saturday night decided not to conduct the search mission, saying it was almost “impossible” to retrieve the three remaining bodies buried underneath the snow.
Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, secretary at the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association, said the bodies were buried around 80-100 metres deep into the snow. “It is impossible to retrieve the bodies due to heavy block of ice on the site,” he said, adding that continuous snowfall in the region has compounded the situation.
Sixteen high-altitude Sherpa guides, including base camp cooks, had perished in the avalanche on Friday morning, the deadliest mountaineering accident ever on the world’s highest peak. So far, 13 bodies have been retrieved.
Out of the nine injured, seven sustaining serious injuries are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the Capital.
Meanwhile, the Nepal Mountaineering Association has arranged a funeral procession of the deceased mountaineers on Monday. The NMA and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal have decided to extend Rs 50,000 in financial assistance to families of the deceased and Rs 35,000 each for the injured. The Expedition Operators’ Association has announced Rs 25,000 for each of the bereaved families and Rs 15,000 for the injured.
On Sunday, mountaineering and guide agencies decided to suspend all climbing activities for the next seven days. Declaring this year as ‘Black Everest year’, they are unsure whether to continue with Everest expeditions this season.
“We will wait for a week to decide whether the spring expedition should be continued,” said Pasang Tenzing Sherpa. A technical committee headed by Dawa Stephen Sherpa has been tasked to look into the matter.
“The committee will make a decision based on the safety and security situation,” he said, adding that the associations would ask the government to refund the royalty fee paid by the climbers or allow them to climb the Everest with the same permit next season if the expeditions are called off this season.
More than 400 climbers have reached the Everest base camp to acclimatize themselves. Climbing begins in mid-May depending on the weather condition. Last year, of the 678 climbers who obtained permits, 567 reached the summit.