After 16 of their colleagues were killed last week, many of Mount Everest's Sherpas quit the 2014 climbing season.
The guides were killed in an avalanche while hauling climbing gear between base camps for adventurers who attempt to scale the world's tallest mountain. Climbers depend on the Sherpas for everything from cooking to navigation to carrying gear. Without them, it's near impossible to reach the summit, according to the Associated Press.
The decision comes after a year of heated negotiations between the Sherpas and the Nepalese government. Last year, the Sherpas threatened to strike unless the government raised their wages. In the wake of this accident, they again pushed the government for more insurance money, support for those injured or killed while climbing, and new workers' rights regulations.
Officials have agreed to create a relief fund for Sherpas killed or injured in climbing accidents. But the Associated Press reports that the deal fell far short of what the Sherpas wanted. "It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing," Dorje Sherpa told the AP. "While there are three of our friends buried in the snow, I can't imagine stepping over them. We want to honor the members we lost and out of respect for them we just can't continue."
The decision could leave climbers, many of whom have paid as much as $90,000 for the trek, without many options. And it could have dire financial consequences for the Sherpa community. As The Wire reports:
The annual climbing season is vital to the economic well-being of the ethnic Sherpa community, so a vote to shut down an entire season is not something the Sherpas would have taken lightly. Friday's tragedy was the deadliest avalanche in the history of Mount Everest.