(MENAFN - Arab News) Last friday's tragedy up in the himalayas was something that was waiting to happen. the death of 16 sherpa guides above the base camp of mt. everest in an avalanche brought to the limelight the state of a multimillion dollar industry driven by adventure greed and exploitation.
hundreds of climbers mostly westerners who have paid up to 100000 individually for a view from the 29029-ft summit of the world below are returning home disappointed. sherpas the highly skilled nepalese workers who are used as mules to carry provisions for the expeditions and do the dangerous job of fixing the ropes for the rich climbers are up in arms over the scandalously low 408 compensation announced by the katmandu government for each of the sherpas killed some of them the sole breadwinners of their families.
the sherpas are well aware of the amount of money the expedition companies make the 4 million the government earns annually from granting climbers licenses and their own 2000 if they make it back home.
the sherpas have struck work demanding better insurance and a larger share of the profit pie and the climbing season seems all but over weeks before the may 19 deadline.
reaching the summit of mt. everest is every climber's dream. and understandably so. but recent years have witnessed crowds of up to 600 people toiling up the mountai slope in a line stretching up to 2 kilometers at times. they include men women young and old fit and unfit littering their way up and down.
all of them are out to fulfill their lifelong ambition to conquer the world's highest mountain peak. some use their life's savings to do this and intend to live and tell the tale. but at the end of the season hospitals in katmandu are full of people suffering from the after effects of a prolonged stay at heights above 17000 feet.
with global warming an established fact there are likely to be more avalanches in the future. this raises the possibility of tragedies involving greater number of people. the himalayan mountain tracks need to be free of litter for future generations to enjoy nature's beauty.
it's high time the nepalese government came out with a sustainable mountaineering policy where the sherpas are given their dues climbers are vetted on the basis of their physical ability and the damage to pristine nature is minimized.
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