Climate change could make Everest summits history

By RTCC Staff

Climate change could make Mount Everest unclimbable as it changes the face of the Himalayas warns Nepal’s “Super Sherpa”.

The Himalayas are the largest glacier area outside of the poles (source:Amit Poudyal)

Nepali climber Apa Sherpa, who received the title having conquered Everest a record 21 times told AFP that he was disturbed by the lack of snow on the world’s highest peak due to rising temperatures.

He also warned that climate change was threatening the region’s farming communities.

“In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rock falls which is a danger to climbers,” he said.

Stretching across an 110,000 sq km area and holding around 12,000 cubic km of water the Himalayas are the largest glacier area outside of the poles and are often called the ‘Roof of the World’.

Last year research published by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) showed that Nepal’s glaciers had shrunk 21% over 30 years.

The three-year project found that all 10 glaciers surveyed in the region are shrinking.

Apa Sherpa said he wouldn’t rule out climate change causing the peak to become completely unclimable in coming years.

“What will happen in the future I cannot say but this much I can say from my own experiences – it has changed a lot,” he said.

“I want to understand the impact of climate change on other people but also I’d like tourism to play a roll in changing their lives as it has changed mine.”

Beginning his life as a farmer, he turned to the tourism industry and mountaineering after he lost all his possessions when a glacial lake burst in 1985.

Climbing in the region is increasingly risky from rising tempuratures and less ice and snow coverage (source:Amit Poudyal)

Speaking from the village of Gati, after completing the first third of a 1,700 kilometre trek – dubbed the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek – he explained how equipment such as crampons, devices used for walking on snow and ice, can be very dangerous when walking on increasing amounts of bare rock.

Joined by one of the world’s other top climbers, Dawa Steven Sherpa – most well-known for this Eco Everest Expedition in 2008 – the 120-day walk is the first official hike along the length of Nepal’s Great Himalayan Trail since it opened last year.

It will see the pair take on some of the world’s most rugged landscapes and ascending beyond 6,000 metres.

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