Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Climate change, crowding imperil iconic route to top of Mount Everest
By Pradeep Bashyal and Annie Gowen May 16 at 9:13 PM
KATHMANDU — As climbers begin to reach the summit of Mount Everest, some veterans are avoiding the Nepali side of the world’s highest peak because melting ice and crowds have made its famed Khumbu Icefall too dangerous.
Not far from the safety of the Everest Base Camp, the icefall is a climber’s first real test: a treacherous 760-yard stretch of ice with shifting crevasses that has claimed the lives of about a quarter of those who have died on the Nepali side of the mountain, including 16 Nepali guides in 2014.
Several veteran climbers and well-respected Western climbing companies have moved their expeditions to the northern side of the mountain in Tibet in recent years, saying rising temperatures and inexperienced climbers have made the icefall more vulnerable. Research by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development shows that the Khumbu glacier is retreating at an average of 65 feet per year, raising the risk of avalanche.
“The icefall is obviously a dangerous place to be, especially later on in the season and with increased temperatures experienced in the Himalayas due to climate change,” Phil Crampton of the climbing company Altitude Junkies told the Everest blogger Alan Arnette earlier this year.
Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/climate-change-crowding-imperil-iconic-route-to-top-of-mount-everest/2018/05/16/4d975094-547a-11e8-a6d4-ca1d035642ce_story.html?utm_term=.02dfffdb86bd
Perhaps regional temperatures have warmed, but there are other possible contributing factors. all that overcrowding at Base Camp must be a source of substantial waste heat – according to Wikipedia, 40,000 people trekked from Lukla airport to Base Camp in 2015. Another factor might be the growth of black carbon pollution, both from the climbers themselves and from further afield like the factories of China.
The following shows how close Base Camp is to the Khumbu Icefall.