The future of the climbing season on Mount Everest remains in doubt, and many mountaineers have decided to call it quits. After a deadly avalanche and conflict over relief funds, many sherpas have said they'll halt climbing for the season. That left hundreds of other climbers at base camp, according to earlier reports; now, about half of those teams are heading down again, the BBC reports. Others are simply still waiting to see what happens.
Sherpas can make up to $8,000 in a climbing season, which lasts three months. While that's 10 times Nepal's average wage, it pales in comparison to the millions of dollars the government gets in permit fees. "The ambience at base camp is becoming increasingly tense," says a climber with Alpenglow Expeditions, via the BBC. The group calls climbing now "unwise and unsafe." Climbers have largely been on the sherpas' side, the New York Times reports, but some have told the paper the conflict has them worried. "There was a veiled threat (or rumor of one) that if we go in the icefall, we might not be safe," says a British climber on his blog, via the Times.