As the mountaineering community prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest, there is growing concern about temperatures rising, glaciers and snow melting, and weather getting harsh and unpredictable on the world’s tallest mountain.
Since the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) mountain peak was first scaled by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay in 1953, thousands of climbers have reached the peak and hundreds of lost their lives.
The deteriorating conditions on Everest are raising concerns for the mountaineering community and the people whose livelihoods depend on the flow of visitors.
The Sherpa community, who grew up on the foothills of the snow-covered mountain they worship as the mother of the world, is the most startled.
“The effects of climate change are hitting not just the fishes of Antarctica, the whales or the penguins, but it’s having a direct impact on the Himalayan mountains and the people there,” said Ang Tshering, a prominent Sherpa who has been campaigning for years to save the Himalayan peaks and surrounding areas from the effects of global warming.
Almost every year, he and his Asian Trekking agency organize a cleaning expedition in which clients and guides alike bring down garbage left by previous Everest climbing parties.
The effects of climate change and global warming have been severe in the high Himalayan area, Ang Tshering said. “The rising temperature of the Himalayan area is more than the global average, so the snow and ice is melting fast and the mountain is turning black, the glaciers are melting and lakes are drying up.”
Growing up on the foothills of the mountain, Ang Tshering said he remembers sliding on the glacier near his village. But that’s gone now.
Other Sherpas also said they have seen the changes in the Khumbu Glacier at the foot of Everest, near the base camp.
“We don’t really need to wait for the future; we are seeing the impact already,” said Phurba Tenjing, a Sherpa guide who recently scaled the peak for the 16th time guiding foreign clients to the summit. (ABC)