The famed Sherpa guides of Nepal are considering a strike, following a massive avalanche on Mount Everest last week that killed 13 guides. The Sherpas are seeking better pay and welfare provisions.
Three Sherpas were hospitalized after the avalanche Friday and three more are presumed dead.
When the avalanche struck, the guides were fixing ropes and cracking snow and ice to carve out a route for foreign climbers waiting in camps below. The accident has brought attention to the guides' dangerous work.
Nepal has announced a payment of about $400 to the families of the dead Sherpas. The guides are seeking increased compensation for the families.
Sherpas make up to $5,000 per season for their grueling work for clients who can spend tens of thousands of dollars in preparation for the ascent.
Nepalese officials say a work stoppage would seriously disrupt the peak climbing season that begins in May.
Authorities say about 1,000 people, almost half of them Sherpas, are on the mountain waiting for the optimal weather conditions.
One guide who was caught in the avalanche has already decided not to ever scale the mountain again. He told The New York Times he heard the cries of pain from his dying comrades during the four-hour wait for help.
The Discovery Channel has canceled its planned winged jumpsuit flight off of Mount Everest. A posting on Facebook by Joby Ogwyn, the star of Everest Jump Live, said "I am safe at base camp but I have lost my Sherpa team in the avalanche yesterday. These men were the salt of the Earth. Far better men than me. My heart is broken."
More than 4,000 climbers have scaled Mount Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay completed the first ascent to the summit in 1953. About 250 people have died trying.