Mountain guide company Himalayan Experience (Himex) announced yesterday that there would be no refunds to climbers who spent roughly $55,000 on an expedition to Mt. Everest which was abruptly cancelled earlier this week. In a statement released on their website, the company said that most of the money has already been spent on logistics, permits, supplies and salaries for this season, but those clients wishing to return next year could do so at a discounted rate.
Calling the 2012 spring season the most dangerous he has ever seen, team leader Russell Brice elected to pull all of his guides, Sherpas and clients off the mountain out of fear for their safety. In the same statement in which he broke the “no refunds” news, Brice also went into detail about how he came to his decision. He noted that unusually warm and dry weather on Everest has led to unstable conditions across the mountain, and the dangers created by those conditions were too great to put his team at risk.
Himex is already planning to return to Everest next season and they say that they’ve had preliminary meetings with the Ice Doctors regarding a safer route through the Khumbu Icefall. That section of the mountain sits just above Base Camp and has been one of the most dangerous areas of the mountain for years.
I salute Brice for making the tough decision for pulling his team off the mountain when literally millions of dollars are on the line. But I also can’t help but feel sorry for the clients who have saved their pennies, trained hard and prepared physically and mentally for the opportunity to climb the tallest mountain on Earth. They must feel incredibly deflated at the moment and the promise of a discounted return trip next year can’t really help soothe that. While a successful summit is never a guarantee, the fact that they didn’t even get the chance to try must be crushing.
Lets also hope that the teams that remain on Everest will get up and down safely without any serious issues or accidents.