Wanaka company assists Sherpas

Wanaka-based Adventure Consultants chief executive officer Guy Cotter is expected to return from Kathmandu this week after attempting to sort negotiations with Sherpas left unable to work after the fatal avalanche on Mt Everest on April 13.

The avalanche killed 13 Sherpas, and another three remain missing, while they were securing ropes ahead of several groups of tourists who planned to climb the mountain.

Three of those who died had been hired by Adventure Consultants.

The accident has been considered the worst climbing accident on the mountain.

The business cancelled this year's expedition after the deaths and Cotter had flown to Kathmandu to support the Sherpas' families.

Adventure Consultants general manager Suze Kelly, of Wanaka, said: ''It's great he can be there to assist.''

The decision to cancel the expedition - six team members from multiple nations and two mountain guides - has meant negotiations with more than 20 other Sherpas, employed by the company in a range of positions from guides to base cooks, needed to be sorted.

Climbers have been long relied on Sherpas and without them reaching the summit would be almost impossible.

Sherpas could earn up to $5800 an expedition.

Many Adventure Consultant Sherpas were ''committee long-term'' team members and included those who took part in the company's first expedition in 1992.

''There has been a lot of tension among the Sherpa camp at base camp, Kelly said.

But it was a ''collective'' decision to cancel the expedition.

''Our Sherpas didn't want to go on,'' she said.

Donations were being taken and given directly to the families of those involved.Kelly said support from New Zealanders and others overseas, many who had taken part in expeditions, had been overwhelming.

''We are grateful to have that at this time,'' she said.

She was in the process of finalising a web page to co-ordinate funds for the three Sherpas' young families.

In Nepal it was common for an employed person to support about 20 people, she said.

At this stage the company was still looking to host an expedition in 2015.

But planning for an expedition usually started after the previous expedition finished, Kelly said.

The company was founded by mountaineer Rob Hall who died on Everest during an expedition in 1996.

In 2009 the company was rated in the awards for Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth by National Geographic Adventure magazine editors.


* The Himalayan Trust in New Zealand has also launched an appeal to help the families of the Sherpa climbers hit by the tragedy. To donate visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/AvalancheAppeal 2014.

The Southland Times