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Burlington Sherpa community saddened by Mount Everest avalanche - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington Sherpa community saddened by Mount Everest avalanche

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - A local community was devastated by a disaster that struck their home country thousands of miles away.

It's a tight-knit community in Burlington and a long way from home.


"They have their name. Then everybody has the same last name, Sherpa," said Tashi Sherpa, owner of Himalayan Food Market.


Sherpas are an ethnic community from Nepal known for their remarkable guidance up Earth's highest peak, Mount Everest. Sherpas help carry gear, cook food and assist with high-altitude adjustment.


Tashi Sherpa has owned the Himalayan Food Market in Burlington for six years, but before he moved to the U.S., Tashi worked as a Sherpa guide on Mount Everest. He only ever led groups to base camp at 18,000 feet, but he says trekking is second nature for Sherpas.


"Not hard, it’s pretty easy," said Tashi.


But Friday, April 18, 2014, the deadliest Mount Everest avalanche in history shook the Sherpa community to the core. Thirteen Sherpas died and three are still missing, but presumed dead.


"That's a big tragedy. I think it's the biggest disaster that has happened for Sherpas," said Tashi.


One of Tashi's relatives lost his life in the avalanche and he says he worries for the families left behind with no support.


On top of personal loss, the avalanche is also a financial one. According to CBS News, a top guide can earn up to $6,000 in a three-month climbing period. That's nearly 10 times Nepal's $700 average annual salary.


"All the family depends on the portion there and when he passed away, the family you know their family,
kids left kind of back," said Tashi.

Tashi says the Burlington Sherpa community is small, only about five or six families, but to him they are all connected in a place that reminds them of home.


"Very close to you know like back home, mountains you have valleys," said Tashi.


Tashi says local Sherpa families will be raising money to send back home to Nepal and prayers hang from the window of his shop for their fallen brothers and sisters thousands of miles away.


CBS News reports that Nepal's government has given $415 in aid to families of the deceased climbers, but the Sherpa community is demanding more money and may even boycott trekking for the season.

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