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Bend woman mourns cousin lost on Mt. Everest


April 18th was a dark day for the families of 16 Sherpa climbing guides, including a Bend woman.

“I cried. I just like could not take it,” Pema Sherpa, who lost her cousin in the disaster, said Friday.

Sherpa said she watched the news coverage of the avalanche on Mt Everest — and then she saw her cousin’s picture.

“I felt totally lost,” Sherpa said.

Her cousin leaves behind a wife and a baby, who was only 14 days old when he died.

Pema said she worries about who will care for them and the other families left behind.

“They’re going through the emotional pain,” she said. “They are — I’m sure they’re depressed. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to go. There is no opportunity.”

Now Pema is hoping for a change. She and other relatives around the world have compiled a list of what needs to happen. One big factor: training, something her cousin did not have when he first started working at the world’s tallest mountain.

“He didn’t have any training. That was his first time going to Mt. Everest without any training,” Sherpa said.

Sherpas have to do trips back and forth the avalanche-prone Khumbu Icefall.

Pema says the number of trips should be reduced to a minimum.

While Westerners spend up to $100,000 to get to the top of Mt. Everest, some guides only get paid $10 a day. Pema wants that to change, and she wants better life insurance policies for the families.

“The family is left behind, and we need to take care of the family,” Sherpa said.

She said many changes are needed, but she knows they won’t happen overnight.

“I think we all need to come together and look at it carefully and see, is that really what we want to do?” Sherpa said.

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