Ashford's IMG, RMI among guide companies leaving Everest early

Tacoma News TribuneApril 23, 2014 

Ashford-based guide services International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering Inc. have ended their Mount Everest expeditions, according to statements posted today on their company websites.

An avalanche killed 16 Sherpas last week in the deadliest climbing accident ever on Mount Everest. In the wake of the incident dozens of Sherpa guides left basecamp upset about their pay, treatment and benefits.

IMG's Kami Sherpa from Kerung was injured in the ice fall, but neither company had Sherpas among the dead. Seattle’s Alpine Ascents, which also called off its expedition, lost five Sherpa guides in the accidents.

Here’s the announcement released today by IMG, one of the largest guide companies on Everest:

IMG leaders Greg Vernovage and Ang Jangbu Sherpa have been forced to end the expedition due to the perilous conditions resulting from the April 18 Icefall avalanche. After several days of intense meetings at Base Camp and in Kathmandu among climbers, sherpas, and representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, no agreement was reached on restarting the 2014 Everest climbing season. The Icefall route is currently unsafe for climbing without repairs by the Icefall doctors, who will not be able to resume their work this season. We have explored every option and can find no way to safely continue the expedition.

The IMG team will be starting down valley in the next few days, with some trekking and some hitching rides by helicopter. They are joined by climbers from other expedition teams that had also been waiting at Base Camp and have also been forced to end their climbs.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

And here is the announcement posted today on the RMI blog:

We began the day with hope that we might be getting closer to resuming climbing.  Billy and JJ took the climbers hiking while Mark Tucker and I met with a number of other climb leaders and Sherpa sirdars.  Those meetings convinced us that the right course was to give up on Mount Everest for Spring 2014.  In future dispatches, we’ll try to quantify the reasons for such a decision.  But for now, suffice to say that the risks outweigh the possibility of success.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion for many of us, from the horror that came with the avalanche of April 18, to the confusion that followed it regarding the right course to take for balancing respect for the dead, concern for team safety and summit ambitions.  Following the accident, our list of serious obstacles to an Everest summit was always significant, but we believed it worthwhile to continue looking for some way forward.  Our climbers, Sherpas, guides, and outfitters had put too much into the planning and execution of this trip to let go of the goal with less than our best effort.  We’ve given that now.

We’ll start heading for home soon.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn



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