KATMANDU, Nepal - Most Sherpa mountain climbers have decided to leave Mount Everest, a guide said Tuesday, confirming a walkout certain to disrupt a climbing season that was already marked by grief over the 16 lives lost in Everest's deadliest disaster.
"It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing while there are three of our friends buried in the snow," said Dorje Sherpa, an experienced Everest guide from the tiny Himalayan community that has become famous for its high-altitude skills and endurance.
"I can't imagine stepping over them," he said of the three Sherpa guides who remain buried in ice and snow after Friday's deadly avalanche. Thirteen bodies have been recovered.
The avalanche was triggered when a massive piece of glacier sheared away from the mountain along a section of constantly shifting ice and crevasses known as the Khumbu Icefall - a teacherous area where overhanging immensities of ice as large as 10-story buildings hang over the main route up the mountain.
Special teams of Sherpas, known as Icefall Doctors, fix ropes through what they hope to be the safest paths, and use aluminum ladders to bridge crevasses. But the Khumbu shifts so much that they need to go out every morning - as they were doing when disaster struck Friday - to repair sections that have broken overnight and move the climbing route if needed.