Helicopter firms are conducting unauthorized sightseeing flights on the peaks of Mt. Everest, Nepalese officials say.
Concerns have been raised that the vibrations may cause avalanches to occur.
Any tourist flight is not allowed to go past the height of 5,364 meters.
The helicopter firms have maintained that the only thing they do is to overfly sights such as Khumbu Icefall of which their flights are allowed.
Numerous disasters in the past two years have caused an expedition of Mount Everest.
Sixteen Sherpas died on their way to Camp One in an icefall in 2014. At least 18 climbers died at Base Camp after a major earthquake triggered a huge avalanche last year.
When the 2014 disaster took place, the authorities reduced the climbing height up to the Khumbu Icefall.
In the current climbing season, Sherpas are transporting the expedition equipment to higher camps.
Pasang Kaji Sherpa said that “The sightseeing helicopters are hovering above the Khumbu Icefall and making things difficult for us.”
“We worry that the vibrations caused by helicopters can crack ice blocks and snow packs on mountains overlooking the Khumbu Icefall.
“There is a deep-seated fear among Sherpa porters that they may be hit by avalanches this year as well and these helicopters are increasing fears,” Pasang Kaji Sherpa added.
But the fears have been dashed aside by the airline officials saying such danger does not exist.
“We fly 2,340 feet from above the ground and maintain at least 1km distance from the mountains so there is no way the vibration can cause avalanche,” said Pabitra Karki, chairman of Airlines Operators Association Nepal (AOAN).
“We use the French-made Ecureil helicopters for sightseeing which are very light and we carry two to three passengers in each flight.”
Alarm and concern
“For Sherpa climbers, especially those carrying equipment for expedition teams, helicopters flying overhead in higher areas is a mentally torturous experience,” says Phurba Namgyal Sherpa, general secretary of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association.
“The fragile snow and ice conditions could be disturbed at any time by the rotors of helicopters and that could spell disaster for us.
“This is an issue we have been discussing for quite some time now but we are not sure where to lodge the complaint.”
The Tourism Department has given the helicopters a go ahead in transporting ropes and other gear up to Camp One in an attempt to fix the route that the earthquake made expedition more difficult.