Nepal’s government is striving to save the Everest climbing season from an unprecedented walkout by sherpa guides as another major mountaineering company abandoned its expedition following a deadly avalanche last week.
New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants lost three people in Friday’s avalanche, which struck a party of sherpas preparing routes for commercial climbers up the world’s highest peak and killed 16.
The company said in a statement on Wednesday that “after much discussion and consideration of all aspects, the tough decision has been made to cancel the 2014 expedition this season”.
US-based Alpine Ascents International and the Discovery Channel, which intended to broadcast the first winged jumpsuit flight off the summit, have also scrapped their plans on the 8,848-metre peak.
Guides and Western mountaineers told AFP on Tuesday that the sherpas had held a meeting in the afternoon after an emotional remembrance ceremony at which they had agreed not to climb the peak this season to honour their colleagues.
Nepalese mountaineering officials, eager to avoid a shutdown that could lead to messy compensation claims and a huge loss of revenue for the impoverished country, denied any such move on Wednesday.
The Nepal Mountaineering Association, a national body representing tourism promoters, released a statement saying “we have not received any confirmation regarding the abandon(ment) of the expeditions on Everest”.
A government delegation is set to fly to Everest base camp on Thursday to negotiate with the sherpas following talks with leading expedition organisers in Kathmandu.
The government, expected to earn at least $US3 million ($A3.21 million) this year from Everest climbing fees alone, has issued permits to 734 people, including 400 guides, for 32 expeditions this season.
More than 300 people, most of them local guides, have died on the peak since the first ascent by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.