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Nepal Diverts Climbing Fees To Sherpa Welfare Fund

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, to a grim anniversary in the mountain climbing world. It was a year ago that 16 Nepalis guiding climbers up Mount Everest were swept away by a hanging glacier that had peeled off the mountain. It was the worst single accident in the history of Everest. Last year's tragedy focused attention on the risks Sherpas take far more than their western clients. Expedition companies were accused of exploiting the Sherpas. There was also anger directed at the Nepalese government, which skims off millions from climbing fees. The controversy hasn't affected the mountain's allure, though. The Nepalese have handed out more climbing permits than they did last year. And many of the Sherpas have returned, too. Often, it's the only way they can support their families. On Saturday, the government agreed to divert a portion of climbing fees to a welfare fund for those injured or killed on the mountain. The climbing route was also changed to avoid that deadly hanging glacier. But the reality of the climbing industry has not changed. There are still thousands of western climbers who want to get to the top of that mountain, and they need local guides to get them there so the Sherpas continue to climb. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.