A Mount Everest avalanche on Friday killed at least 12 Nepalese guides while an additional three remain missing.
According to Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal, the avalanche struck at about 6:30 a.m. local time, impacting the area where the Sherpa scouts were setting up ropes that would be used later in the day to assist other climbers with their track to the world’s highest peak, The Associated Press reported
. Sherpas are an ethnic group in eastern Nepal who secure ropes for climbers and designate their climbing paths.
According to Mount Everest officials, the accident is the worst disaster to ever hit climbers on the mountain. In addition to the dead and missing, two other guides were injured, however it was not reported whether their injuries stemmed from the avalanche itself or the subsequent search and rescue effort.
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Prior to Friday’s avalanche, the worst Everest disaster on record occurred in May of 1996 when a snowstorm killed eight climbers, USA Today noted
. Six Nepalese guides were also killed in 1970 due to an avalanche.
Last year, four climbers died on the mountain due to "traffic jams" that caused climbers to slow down and spend more time than they should at dangerous altitudes.
In 2013 more than 500 climbers reached the summit of Everest, The Guardian reported
. Foreign climbers, primarily Westerners, are charged upwards of $50,000 to reach the upper slopes of the mountain with help from the Sherpas.
At the moment, there are reportedly hundreds of climbers who have gathered with their guides at a base camp awaiting their chance to climb the 29,035-foot mountain early next month when weather conditions are more favorable. Everest was first scaled by a Westerner in 1953 when New Zealander Edmund Hillary conquered it alongside his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay.
Last April, Mount Everest was in the news when a group of European climbers brawled with Sherpa guides at some 24,000-feet up the mountain
The disagreement occurred when the three seasoned climbers — one Italian, one Brit, and one Swiss — reportedly ignored instructions from the Sherpas, who say the climbers started climbing above them on their own. One of them may have also knocked some ice loose, hitting one of the Sherpas, The Atlantic reported
News traveled fast, and about 100 Sherpas who heard the guides' side of the story greeted the European climbers by pelting their tents with rocks when they returned to the base camp.
Locals then reportedly attacked the Europeans by kicking and hitting them, forcing them to flee the area until another group of Westerners intervened. The climbers claim they could have been killed if the other foreign climbers had not stepped in.
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