Climbing operations on the South Side of Everest have been shut down since the tragic accident that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa last Friday. During that period, the mountaineering community there has been mourning the loss of their friends and teammates, while attempting exactly how to proceed from here. The death of those men has touched every team, and every climber, in some way, and at the moment, the fate of the entire season is hanging in the balance. That is no longer true for one team however, as they have made the difficult decision to end their expedition.
Earlier today, the Adventure Consultants sent the following dispatch from Base Camp:
The past few days at Everest Base Camp since Friday have been a very difficult time for all on the AC team as we grieve for the Sherpas who have been lost. Our three dear friends were integral to our operation and our Sherpa, Guides and staff know most of the other thirteen Sherpa and Nepalese who have died. After much discussion and consideration of all aspects the tough decision has been made to cancel the 2014 expedition this season.
Our team members have empathy for the Sherpa community and we wish for everyone to be able to mourn their lost family and friends in peace.
We thank you for all your support and condolences, which mean so much as we try to recover from the enormity of this tragedy.
The Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition 2014 Team
The AC squad is the first team to publicly announce that they are going home, and understandably so. Three of the Sherpas that were killed were on their squad, and the loss of those men has surely underscored the dangers of climbing the mountain. With heavy hearts, they will now begin the long journey back home.
I suspect that this won't be the only team that makes the decision to pull the plug on their expedition over the next few days. Indications are that there is a lot of uncertainty and doubt on the South Side at the moment, and the climbers are unsure how to pick up the pieces and continue on after the single deadliest day in Everest history. The decision could be made for them however, as the Sherpas themselves have asked for a seven day moratorium on climbing so that they could mourn the loss of their friends. At the end of that period, the entire group could call in an end to the season, particularly if the Nepali government doesn't respond to their list of demands.
We'll know a lot more in a few days, but for now, things continue to be quiet, while the everyone tries to sort out their options.