An Everest guide typically earns about US$125 per climb. Most come from climbing families, raised on stories of wealth from climbs, and have relatively few other economic opportunities. Between 350 and 450 guides, most of them Sherpas, work each year during the climbing season. A guide can earn up to $5,000 a year, compared to Nepal’s average annual salary of $700.
In the years leading up to the avalanche, foreigners began bringing their own guides, causing tension with locals. Eight people, including one of the more experienced Sherpa guides, died on Mount Everest in 2013.