Everest climbs could restart
Expeditions to the summit of Mount Everest could resume if climbers decide to go ahead, government and trekking officials in Nepal have said.
Tulsi Prasad Gautam, chief of Nepal's tourism department, said the route damaged by an avalanche sparked by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and the ropes used to navigate it can be fixed by next week. He insisted there is still time left to attempt to scale the peak before the season is usually ended by bad weather in about mid-May.
The climbers and Sherpas who were attempting to reach the summit from the north face of the mountain, in Tibet, have already packed their gear and left after Chinese authorities closed all climbing for the spring season.
But in Nepal, Mr Gautam said: "The time for the expedition teams can be extended to June if necessary. Most of the teams are still in the region and many are still undecided if they are going to abandon."
Nineteen people were killed in the avalanche at Everest base camp, but s everal Sherpa guides are willing to go back to work if the expeditions resume.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, the umbrella body of mountaineering agencies and climbers in Nepal, said some expeditions are still debating what to do.
It is not clear how many teams had decided to quit or stay back on the mountain. Mr Tshering was more pessimistic than the tourism official about their prospects.
"It does look like it is going to be difficult for the expeditions that decide to continue. The route above the base camp has been destroyed by the avalanche," he said.
"The future of the Everest climb this season is quite uncertain," he said, adding that Sherpas are worried the season may be over.
Despite the terrible dangers of their jobs - a year rarely passes without at least one death on Everest - the Sherpas, once among the poorest and most isolated people of Nepal, now have schools, mobile phones and their own middle class.
All that is the result of the economy of Mount Everest, which brings tens of millions of pounds to Nepal every year.