Climate change and its affect on conquering Mt Everest

Mt EverestMount Everest at approximately 29,092 feet or 8,845 metres stands as a moumental challenge for mountain climbers world wide. Climbers have been ascending Everest for decades. Hundreds of climbers have ascended Everest since the first successful expedition by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1951. Everest stands as a omnipresent sentinel standing guard over an ever changing world. Mount Everest is famous for its treachery, and unstable conditions which are constantly changing obstacles for climbers. This is true especially in these days of global climate change.

Those that are the most familiar with Everest, and the conditions on the mountains are the Sherpa’s,the farmers and mountain guides that are born and raised in Eastern Nepal, and are intimately acquainted with the changing conditions in the Himalayas. Climbers say the hotter summers and colder winters are making conditions much more difficult than they were years ago.

Apa Sherpa, a climber who has reached the summit of Everest 21 times, implies that the geological changes coming to Everest as a result of climate change may make Everest too dangerous to summit. Sherpa says that conditions on Everest have changed a lot from his fist climb in 1989 when snow and ice was more prevalent. Documented geological changes in the Himalayas have made uncertaininites in their altitude according to several reports. Recent ice melt changes and rainfall in the Himalayas may have decreased the altitude of Everest several feet, which makes a difference is the climbing portion of the trek up the mountain.

Some of the effects on the mountain itself are increased rockslides and difficulty in climbing bare rocks. Climbers wear crampons when ascending Everest. The crampons are necessary to make it up the thick ice that blankets the mountain. The increasing amount of bare rock makes it difficult to use crampons, as it is dangerous and difficult to walk on bare rocks with these devices. This is a primary danger currently to climbers, who in the past have been more concerned with the effects of altititude and weather.

Other experts including Nepal glacier expert John All from the University of Kentucky have documented the lack of snow and ice on the Southern ascent to Everest including the exposure of the bare rocks. The landscape and terrain is much different than what was described by previous climbers.

The difference can be seen in the Everest base camp itself, where deep crevices have appeared that were formerly covered by ice. Everest may indeed become insurmountable as climate change continues.

The increasing amounts of bare rocks have also made Everest subject to rock slides which can come unexpectedly and threaten climbers attempting to ascend to the summit. Independent reports have shown that Nepalese glaciers have sunk 21 percent over the past 30 years. The shrinking of the glaciers threatens the existence and livelihood of the famers below.

It is certain that climate change is going to contiue for at least the next 50 years, so conditions may have deteriorated so much on Everest by that time, that the mountain may indeed be unclimbable, and the decimating ice pack, will prove a real threat to the villagers and farmers that live below the mountain.

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