- In Focus
A Year After Everest Disaster, This Sherpa Isn't Going Back
Memories of the killer avalanche endure, but Pemba Sherpa is also worried about the Tibetan calendar.
"Daytime, Pemba is OK," says Ngawang Karma Sherpa. "But nighttime…" Ngawang Karma's broken English trails off. She crinkles her nose skeptically and shakes her hands in a "so-so" gesture.
Last April 18, Ngawang Karma's 24-year-old son, Pemba, was guiding a client through Mount Everest's treacherous Khumbu Icefall when a massive avalanche killed 16 Nepali high-altitude workers.
It was the deadliest avalanche in the history of the world's tallest mountain and led all the commercial expeditions to leave the mountain before attempting the summit. It also deeply touched the community of local workers who are the backbone of Himalayan expeditions, carrying out tasks such as establishing climbing routes, hauling loads, cooking, cleaning, and guiding clients, who pay an average of