15 May 2016

Tourists warned over Everest guides

7:00 am on 15 May 2016

With Mt Everest's summit reached for the first time in two years, Western guides are warning cut-price Nepalese guides on Mt Everest are "buyer beware" for tourists.

Climbers in the Khumbu icefall, Mt Everest, in 2012.

Climbers in the Khumbu icefall, Mt Everest, in 2012. Photo: AFP

Climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest for the first time in two years, following two seasons cut short by the tragedies of a mass avalanche and last year's earthquake.

Sherpas fixing ropes made it up first, followed by three foreign climbers with another dozen close behind.

Almost 300 climbers are attempting to scale the world's highest peak.

The season began with warnings by Western guides that some new cut-price Nepali companies are putting inexperienced climbers' lives at risk.

Veteran mountaineer Alan Arnette, who had just visited Everest base camp said that was true.

He said it was "buyer beware" in the Himalayas until some of the Nepalese sherpas were better trained, five or ten years from now.

It was Western companies rather than Nepalese companies that were performing most of the rescues, and were better outfitted, he said.

"In my observation and my experience climbing everest since 2002 is that the Western companies - American, European, New Zealand, Australia - they pay above average, they give each sherpa around $US1500 for a gear allowance. They pay the $500 for the $15,000 life insurance."

He said the Nepalese companies would apply for grants from the government and cut corners.

"What I have observed over the last two years on Everest in particular is that you've got a lot of Nepali companies that are coming in - they're hiring support staff that in many cases have never been on the mountain before."

However, those support staff did not really have the training or were inequipped to support the clients, he said.

"We've had cases in the last four or five years where they fall off of ladders - they need more training."