Mt. Everest Climbs Called Off in Wake of Sherpa Deaths

One expedition group is leaving the mountain after Sherpa deaths.

April 21, 2014, 1:29 PM

April 21, 2014— -- Days after a devastating avalanche killed at least 13 Sherpas on Mount Everest, grieving climbers are calling off their pricey expeditions.

Gordon Janow, director of the Seattle-based expedition group Alpine Ascents International, told his team of 12 climbers will leave the mountain Tuesday.

He lost five Sherpas in the tragic snow slide on Friday.

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"With any kind of accident, there's things to review and perhaps things to change," Janow said.

“There’s a lot going on at base camp with how the future will be determined.”

About 400 foreign climbers from 39 expedition teams are in limbo on the mountain, plus staff and Sherpas, Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association told the Associated Press. Many are at a standstill at base camp, unsure if they will continue or head home.

Janow thinks it's "unlikely" many climbers will continue their treks to the summit, but says that decision belongs to the Sherpa community.

"I can't speak for every organization, but right now groups are at base camp kind of dealing with the rescue and the families," he said.

Hugo Searle, who leads smaller Everest climbs for High Adventure Expeditions, called Alpine's cancellation a "bold move."

"It makes a clear statement," Searle told "I would be surprised if other teams leave."

He explained canceling trips on Everest is difficult because of how much money climbers pay.

"A lot of these clients pay 40, 50, 60,000 dollars each to go on these climbs. To tell people, 'Now we're not going to take you to the top' gets them a little upset. It makes that decision more complicated."

Searle, who did not lead a climb this year, adds that if one person leaves, the team must go.

"It's a group decision," he said.

Sherpas have threatened to boycott if Nepal’s government doesn’t provide more insurance money and financial aid for victims.

"Right now, I can't even think of going back to the mountain," Tashi Dorje, whose cousin was among the Sherpas killed, told the AP. "We have not just lost our family members, but it is a loss for the whole mountaineering community and the country."

The focus in Nepal is on rescue efforts and helping the Sherpas' families, Janow said. Three people are still missing.

Janow said Sherpas are “vital” to nearly all of today’s Everest expeditions.

“They’re involved in carrying gear up the mountain, setting up the camps, making sure the routes are groomed for climbing,” he said.

"There are very, very few –- if any –- expeditions that don’t involve Sherpa support on Everest at this time,” Janow said.

A funeral service for the fallen Sherpas was held today in Kathmandu.

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