KATHMANDU, Nepal – Sherpas in Nepal have refused to rebuild a climbing route on Mount Everest that was destroyed by an earthquake-triggered avalanche more than a week ago, a decision likely to end this year’s climbing season.
Gyanendra Shrestha, an official at Nepal’s Mountaineering Department, said the Sherpas informed the office on Monday that they were not going to rebuild the route because of safety and time reasons.
It would be the second consecutive year that the climbing season has been called off because of deaths on the world’s highest peak. The season was cancelled last year after an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides.
Mountaineering teams have until the end of this month to climb the peak, but without the route being fixed it is not possible for them. The Sherpas play a crucial role by bringing the ladders, ropes and equipment needed to clear the trail.
Kapindra Rai of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which controls the Icefall Doctors, as the Sherpas who prepare the route are called, said the area is too dangerous and there is not much time left in the season before it begins to get warmer and melting ice and monsoon rains bring bad conditions.
“It is just not possible to rebuild the route in time for climbers to attempt to scale the peak,” Rai said.
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The government has not formally cancelled the season and climbing permits are valid until the end of May.
Climbers and Sherpas attempting to reach the summit from the north face of the mountain in Tibet have already packed their gear and left after Chinese authorities closed all climbing for the spring season.
The Sherpas are paid daily wages, but will also lose the big bonuses they generally receive from the teams after successful climbs to the peak.
The April 25 earthquake has already killed more than 7,200 people in Nepal, flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings and archaeological sites in Kathmandu.