April 18, 2014 was the deadliest day in the history of Mount Everest. On that day, an avalanche occurred on the southern side of the mountain, killing 16 Sherpa guides who were fixing ropes to prepare the South Col route for fee-paying commercial climbers for the upcoming climbing season. In response, the Sherpas have announced they will no longer work on the mountain for the remainder of 2014 out of respect for the victims.
The photos in the gallery above are part of an initiative by the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation to help support the families of the victims. The Foundation has been working in Nepal for 12 years, and was established by Jennifer Lowe-Anker and her husband Conrad Anker, in memory of her late husband Alex Lowe, who died in a similar avalanche in 1999. The photos were taken by a group of 10 National Geographic photographers who have worked extensively with the Sherpa people, and sales of prints will go directly to the families affected, as well as to long-term community assistance initiatives, like safety training for high-altitude workers and the medical clinic at Everest base camp.
"We have been in contact with friends who were at base camp or on the mountain when the tragedy occurred," Lowe-Anker told Strombo.com. "Death of this magnitude is always a difficult thing to comprehend. There have been lots of emotions including anger and blame and that is all pretty normal when grieving."
Lowe-Anker also said that change is in order with regard to the working conditions of the guides who are crucial to helping climbers up the mountain. "A safety net is needed to match the level of danger associated with the job," she said. "I am glad to see that the Sherpa have asked for change and believe that it is long overdue." A Sherpa guide typically makes between $2,000 and $5,000 for a season's work — much more than they might make in other jobs, but much less than climbers typically pay to summit the mountain, according to the New York Times.
To purchase a print, head over to the sale's website. The sale ends at midnight tonight.
And for more on the Sherpa people and their history of mountaineering, see this article in National Geographic.