Nepal faces year with no ascent of Everest in wake of deadly avalanche
Season looks set to end without climbs to the peak as teams pull out after avalanche tragedy
Reuters in Kathmandu
Several foreign expeditions have called off attempts to scale Everest following an avalanche that killed at least 13 local guides, meaning Nepal faces an entire season without a single ascent of the world's highest mountain for the first time in decades.
The toll from last Friday's accident was the highest in a single day in Everest history, and many Sherpas who are angry over their treatment at the hands of foreign mountaineers and the government have refused to guide visitors up the climb.
Three Sherpas are still missing since an avalanche struck while they were carving out a route for foreign climbers through the Icefall, near the base camp for most climbs on the Nepali side of the mountain.
The US-based International Mountain Guides (IMG) became the largest team to pull out in response to the tragedy. It had around 40 climbers in three teams on the mountain.
The Peak Freaks Everest 2014 expedition also pulled out for safety reasons, and said the Nepalese government had officially closed Everest for the season.
But Sushil Ghimire, a senior bureaucrat at Nepal's tourism ministry, said some teams might yet decide to attempt to scale the summit. Foreign expeditions on the Tibetan side of the mountain remained unaffected, he said.
"Some teams may withdraw while some may climb. It has been agreed that no-one will stop those mountaineers who want to climb Everest in the current season itself," he said.
Vern Tejas of the Seattle-based Alpine Ascents, which lost five of its guides in the accident, said the group was coming back out of respect to the guides who lost their lives.
Also returning was New Zealand's Adventure Consultants team, which lost three guides.
The mountaineering season lasts until the end of May, when cloud from the rainy season pushes up from the south, making climbing impossible.