Mildura Weekly : Friday May 2 2014 Vol 8 No 26
Mildura Weekly – 02/05/14 13 www.milduraphonebook.com.au Kokoda trio set for Everest climb • From Page 13 The trek is deliberately slow, not only to help trekkers accli- matise, but also allowing them the opportunity to inspect Sherpa villages, visit monastries and tem- ples, parts of the national park, glacial waters, cross suspension bridges and pay their respects at memorials erected for many of those who have perished on their Himalayan adventure. Although tens of thousands of climbers have completed the trek to Everest Base Camp, only 4000 have been successful in reaching the summit since Sir Edmund Hil- ary in 1953. The mountain has so far claimed more than 300 lives, including the 16 who perished in the latest avalanche. Previous worst disaster was in 1996, when 11 climbers died in a blinding snowstorm. An estimated 300 interna- tional climbers had booked with accredited climbing groups for attempts on the summit this year. Some had paid as much as $60,000 for the experience. It has been estimated that the Everest Base Camp and summit attempts are a $80 million industry, but less than $10 million of that stays in Nepal. Sherpas can earn up to $8000 in the three month Everest ‘sea- son.’ That’s more than 10 times the average wage in Nepal, but the risks are heavy, proven by the April 18 avalanche and fatalities, and those before it. Last month’s tragedy is the worst on record. The Sherpa guides who died were part of an advance party, less than 500 metres above Base Camp, at a passage called the Khumbu Icefall, and had start- ed out at daybreak to prepare a path and fix ropes for climbers. Base Camp on Everest lies next to Khumbu Glacier, 3570 meters from the summit. Riddled with crevasses and ice boulders that can break free at any time, it is always treated with respect and caution, and is considered one of Everest’s most dangerous sections. Media reports say the Sherpa guides often make as many as 25 round trips to car- ry tents and supplies to various camps up the mountain. Experienced mountaineers say that while the summit of Everest remains in doubt, at least for the time being, the Nepalese Govern- ment had assured companies that their climbing permits would re- main valid for the next five years. But at least six companies had announced their intention not to summit Everest in the wake of this latest tragedy. At the time of the latest ava- lanche, Base Camp was home to around 900 people, most of them Sherpa guides and porters. The Nepalese Government re- leased an ‘emergency’ fund relief of $400 to each of the families of the Sherpas who died, with the promise of around $10,000 in compensation, But there have been calls this week for increased insurance coverage, to at least $15,000, and hopefully as much as $20,000 per person. The aver- age annual wage in Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest countries, is around $700. There is also talk that the Gov- ernment will establish a relief fund for the welfare of bereaved families, and also pay for the edu- cation of their children. Neil Bradford says he hadn’t really been aware of the low pay rates for the hundreds of Sherpa guides who helped Everest expe- ditions each year. “All I know is that they are highly-regarded and widely respected, tough as nails, and that climbers are encouraged to tip them generously,” he said. “If our trek goes ahead, which I expect it will because the Sherpas have come to reply heavily on the tourist dollar, we will certainly be doing what we can to help them out.” WHILE the faces behind the now well-known songs and coloured shirts may have changed over the past two years, Wiggle-mania is well and truly alive if the scenes in Mildura were anything to go by this week. Performing two shows at Mildura Arts Centre to hundreds of young fans, ev- ergreen ‘blue’ wiggle Antho- ny Field – the only original Wiggle in the group – was joined on stage by newcom- ers Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce and Emma Watkins (the first woman to wear the famous coloured long- sleeved skivvy) as part of the group’s three-month tour. Regarded as Australia’s most successful children’s group to ever take the stage, The Wiggles have under- gone a major facelift over the past two years, with original members Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt and Greg Page recently hanging up their skivvies. Not that Mildura’s youngsters seemed to mind the change in personnel! A packed house enjoyed all their favourite Wiggle songs and characters, with a few parents even seen singing along as Mildura Weekly photographer DAR- REN SEILER captured these shots. New-look Wiggles visit Mildura • GET A WIGGLE ON: Mildura youngsters Miley Crothers and Charlie Collison, both 3, RIGHT, joined hundreds of fans attending two Wiggles concerts this week. The new-look group is pictured ABOVE on stage, while Simon Pryce (left) and Anthony Field are pictured LEFT.
Friday April 25 2014 Vol 8 No 25
Friday May 9 2014 Vol 8 No 27