Since Edmund Hillary got all the credit for the first ascent of Mount Everest, the role of his sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, has been recognized as at least equally important. Now, an avalanche has killed 16 sherpas in the worst disaster in the mountain's history. A sherpa boycott might mean the end of this year's climbing season. In Nepal, where $700 is the average salary, a mountain guide can earn up to $6000 during the three-month season. Is that enough? What do sherpas do? Nick Heil is Digital Editorial Director of Outside magazine and author of Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season.