Mount Everest Avalanche Lead Local Guides to Protest

July 1, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. avalanche [AV-uh-lanch] (n.) – a large amount of snow or ice on a mountainside that collectively and rapidly collapses and slides
Example: After almost being buried alive in snow by an avalanche, he gave up mountain-climbing.

2. ultimatum [uhl-tuh-MEY-tuh m] (n.) – a non-negotiable and final demand by one party
Example: When the government refused the ultimatum, the people protested.

3. earmark [EER-mahrk] (v.) – to save or put something aside for a given purpose
Example: She has been earmarking a decade’s worth of savings for a trip to the Alps.

4. augment [awg-MENT] (v.) – to increase the amount and/or size of something
Example: Foreign companies helped the government augment the salaries of the local guides.

5. summit [SUHM-it] (n.) – the highest point or peak of a hill or a mountain
Example: He placed his country’s flag on the mountain’s summit as a symbol of his achievement.


Read the text below.
Local Nepalese guides (also known as “Sherpas”) refuse to participate in this year’s climbing season as a gesture of respect to those who have lost their lives in the recent avalanche in Mount Everest.

This fatal incident caused the deaths of 16 Sherpas [SHER-puh], which discouraged other guides to climb the mountain. Also, the guides gave an ultimatum that forces the government to provide more safety funds and better insurance.

Sherpas are well-known for their mountaineering skills and geographical knowledge. Foreign climbers often hire them as guides in climbing Mount Everest. Each guide is paid up to 8,000 USD per season—an amount that barely covers their life insurance when encountering climbing accidents. 

In response to the Sherpas' ultimatum, the Nepalese government issued five percent of the visiting climbers’ fee to be earmarked for an injury fund. The officials also augmented their life insurance by 50 percent.

However, the Sherpas   were not satisfied with these offers, pleading to double the finances for both the fund and the insurance. The government is yet to respond to these demands.

The ongoing dispute has garnered mixed reactions from various mountaineers and expedition companies worldwide. Some expressed their support to the Sherpas and are willing to provide financial aid to ensure the safety of both visiting climbers and guides. Others consider the locals’ demands as bargaining schemes to get better pay.

In sixty years, at least 300 people, most of whom were local guides, have died in their attempt to reach the mountain’s peak. Despite the fatalities and the recent incident, however, foreign mountaineers still show determined interest to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Would you support the Sherpa people’s motives and demands? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, what should the government do to ease the tension?

Discussion B

·         What extreme sports are popular in your country?
·         Have you tried doing any extreme sports or activities? 

July 1, 2014