A Nepalese mountaineering official says climbers are returning to Mount Everest as the climbing industry recovers from last year's disaster on the world's highest peak.

Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said Wednesday that four team permits have been issued, and another 11 written applications are pending and more applications are expected in the next few days.

It was feared that the deaths of 16 local Sherpa guides in an avalanche that led to the end of the 2014 climbing season would deter climbers from returning to the mountain.

Shrestha said they expect more than 40 teams during the popular spring season that ends in May, up from the 31 teams that signed up last year.