On the surface of the world, glaciers are melting – an even greater danger for climbers. As there are more and more rockfalls and fissures, now Nepal wants to move the base camp.
During the spring, up to 1,500 mountaineers spend the night at the foot of Mount Everest. However, the base camp became increasingly unsafe, BBC reports. The Khumbu glacier, on which the camp stands, is getting thinner and thinner. Climate change and human activity are to blame for the glacier. In order to prevent worse things from happening and to make the business more sustainable, the authorities in Nepal are now planning to postpone the base camp.
Falling rocks and melting water
Like many other glaciers in the world, the Khumbu glacier, located at an altitude of more than 5300 meters, is becoming thinner and thinner. A 2018 study by the University of Leeds showed that the glacier section near the camp is shrinking by a meter per year. In addition, alpine climbers are increasingly reporting faults.
Rock debris covers most of the glacier. However, there are also exposed areas of ice, known as ice slopes. Researcher Scott Watson explains to the BBC that if this material melts, the glacier becomes unstable. “When the ice slopes melt in this way, the rocks on top of the ice slopes move.” This leads to dangerous precipitation of rocks and movements of melting water on the surface of the glacier.
According to the researcher, the glacier loses 9.5 million cubic meters of water annually.
Suddenly cracks appeared
Khimlal Gautam explains that climate change is not only the cause of the problem, but also the number of people who spend the night in base camp. Gautam is a prominent member of the committee that recommended the relocation of the camp. “For example, we found that people in the base excrete up to 4,000 liters of urine per day,” he told the BBC. It is not only urine that pollutes the environment. “The huge amount of fuels like kerosene and gas that we burn there for cooking and heating will definitely have an effect on the glacier ice.”
“We are now preparing for this step and will consult all concerned soon,” Taranath Adhikari, director general of the Nepal Tourism Department, told the BBC. The camp will be moved to a place where there is no permanent ice. It should now be 200 to 400 meters below the current location. The move may occur before 2024, according to Nepalese officials. First you discuss the project with the local communities.
Even the highest glacier on Mount Everest is not protected from the dangers of rising temperatures. Researchers led by the University of Maine foundThe South Cole Glacier has lost more than 54 meters of fish in the past 25 years. The glacier, which is about 7,906 meters above sea level, is shrinking 80 times faster than it can form at the surface again. The reason: high temperatures and strong winds. Snow eroded on the surface, causing the ice to melt faster.
Paul Majowski, the study’s lead researcher, suggests, “The South Cole glacier may be in retreat — it may actually be a remnant of a much cooler earlier time.”