Dozens of Sherpas departed Mount Everest early Wednesday in response to last week's deadly avalanche that left 13 of their colleagues dead with three more still missing. The walkout leaves the remainder of the 2014 Everest climbing season in doubt.
The Associated Pressreports that high-ranking Nepali officials will fly to Everest Thursday and attempt to negotiate a truce that would prevent a mass work stoppage and coax the native guides to return to the mountain. Many Sherpas have expressed anger over what they feel has been an inadequate governmental response to the tragedy, casting new light on long-simmering resentment over poor pay and benefits for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
Guided expeditions, which routinely charge between $40,000 and $100,000 per climber, rely on Sherpas to fix ropes and ladders along the climbing route, set camps, and carry gear. Several prominent expeditions, including one backed by the Discovery Channel, have already announced plans to cancel their climbs.