A daughter lights a candle for her father who died in the avalanche at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu.

A daughter lights a candle for her father who died in the avalanche at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu. Photo: AFP

Delhi: Sherpas have gathered at Mount Everest's base camp and proposed a "work stoppage" after being disappointed at the Nepalese government's offer of 40,000 rupees  ($435) as compensation for the families of the dead.

The strike could disrupt or cancel the 334 expeditions planned for the 2014 climbing season.

Three days have passed since an avalanche at Everest killed at least 13 Sherpas as they carried gear for international expedition groups. It was the worst single-day death toll in the mountain's history and has turned the spotlight on the role of the Sherpas, members of an ethnic group renowned for their skill at high-altitude climbing. They earn $US3000 to $US5000 a season –  two to three months – and put themselves at great risk for affluent clients.

A woman cries as her father's body is brought to a Sherpa Monastery.

A woman cries as her father's body is brought to a Sherpa Monastery. Photo: AP

Such a strike would be unprecedented, according to Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, who has pressed the government to increase the compensation package to $US1041 per family. He said Sherpas were divided over whether to continue scaling Everest. The dispute "has not yet been resolved", he said.

The tension promised to heighten on Monday, when groups of Sherpas plan to carry the bodies of their dead colleagues through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.

Many of the international commercial teams still at the base camp are weighing up whether to continue their push to the summit or abandon their expeditions. Clients prepare for months or years, often investing tens of thousands of dollars, and some experts said they would be unlikely to turn around.

The father and son of a Sherpa killed in the avalanche wait for his body to arrive at the Sherpa Monastery.

The father and son of a Sherpa killed in the avalanche wait for his body to arrive at the Sherpa Monastery. Photo: AFP

"I don't think this is going to slow down the machine, which will escalate through May," said David Roberts, a climber and the author of several books about climbing. "Even though it is the greatest tragedy in the history of Everest, right now at base camp they are saying, 'This is a tragedy, but we have paid all this money to get here.'"

Some climbers, however, said their passion for the ascent was gone. Ed Marzec, 67, from Los Angeles, said he had insisted his expedition include Asha Gurung, 28, a Sherpa, in part because Gurung had saved his life on an earlier trek. Gurung – the father of two children, aged one and three – is one of three men who are missing and presumed dead.

Mr Marzec said he had spent two years training for the ascent and invested about $US100,000 of his own money, but would cancel his expedition if the Sherpas declared a strike. He said he believed the vast majority of his fellow climbers would do the same.

"This is the least I can do," he said. ''The mountain will be there next year, and for the next thousand years. This is the first chance the Sherpas will have to put themselves out there, and I hope they get some benefit from it."

Mr Marzec said on his website that large US tour operators were pressing the Sherpas to back down from the threat of a strike. "I am ashamed by our greed and embarrassed by our lack of compassion," he wrote.

New York Times