29,028-foot Mount Everest will not be climbed this year for the first time since 1974. Following Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 25th that killed 18 at the south Everest base camp and over 7,000 in Nepal, China closed the north side of the mountain to climbing. This was Everest’s worst disaster in history follow right on the heel of Everest’s previous worst disaster in history last year when 16 were killed in an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall.
Nepal has not yet officially closed the south side of the mountain to climbing (mostly because they’d like to keep the $11,000 climbing permits issued to 357 climbers this year) but the Icefall Doctor’s, a group of Sherpa who fix the lines to cross the treacherous Khumbu Icefall (between base camp and Camp I), have refused to reset the ropes after the earthquake destroyed the original route.
“It is not possible to open the route this year”
“The icefall itself is not stable, and the route that was previously opened has been completely damaged.” – Ang Dorjee Sherpa of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, the body that operates the Icefall Doctors
The Sherpa believe that there isn’t enough time to fix a new route in time for people to summit in the traditional May 10th – May 20th window. After May 20th, the monsoon hits and climbing season ends. The Khumbu Icefall is also very unstable after the April 25th earthquake violently shifted all of the ice in the icefall.
“It is just not possible to rebuild the route in time for climbers to attempt to scale the peak,” Kapindra Rai, Sagamartha Pollution Control Committee, which controls the Icefall Doctors
Last year, an avalanche came down onto the Khumbu Icefall and killed 16 Sherpa. At that time, Nepal closed the south side of Everest to climbing and extended climbing permits to this year. Now, the are likely feeling the lack of revenue from the climbing permits and are hesitant to close the south side this year to avoid refunding those $11,000 permits.
This year’s climbing permits are valid until May 31st, but every climbing team on the south side has already pulled out. This will be the first year that no one climbs Everest since 1974.