Global warming and the lack of consideration of some unscrupulous mountaineers are beginning to be felt.
For high mountain enthusiasts, Everest represents a form of accomplishment; each year, hundreds of mountaineers in search of thrills come to camp on its slopes before embarking on a journey halfway between the initiation rite and extreme sports performance. But for those accustomed to the highest peak in the world, the landscape will soon change completely.
Indeed, the BBC explains that the base camp is melting away; it will soon have to be moved. This is the first bivouac where mountaineers settle; but under the effect of global warming, this site located on the Khumbu glacier is becoming more and more dangerous.
Because of the temperature, this huge block of ice would almost lose 10 million cubic meters of water per year. A situation that puts the integrity of the glacier in danger; mountaineers speak of huge crevices that can form overnight in the middle of tents. “In the morning, many of us notice that they could have fallen into it during the night. These cracks develop so often that it becomes quite risky”, explains the Nepalese Colonel Kishor Adhikari interviewed by the BBC.
In addition, local experts have noted an increase in avalanches and rockfalls; disturbing phenomena directly associated with the melting of the glacier. And the guides apparently expect these phenomena to increase further. Anything but good news for mountaineers; this obviously poses serious risks even before the start of an already dangerous ascent.
The local impact of mountaineers is also growing
And it is unfortunately not only global warming that is responsible for this situation. As the practice of extreme mountaineering has become popular, Everest has gone from being a near-sacred sanctuary to a premier tourist area. And as always in these cases, this also implies the presence of many unscrupulous people. Suffice to say that today, the site no longer enjoys the same quasi-religious aura that it once had. .
According to Khimlal Gautam, one of the leaders of the committee which recommended the change, the presence of these oblivious tourists would have a considerable impact on the glacier. And it starts with the biological needs of the many visitors, with “about 4000L” of human waste that is dumped on the base camp every day.
The other big problem is pollution based on plastics and especially hydrocarbons, which is a problem. “The massive amount of fuels like gas and kerosene that we burn for heating and cooking will undoubtedly impact the ice.”, worries Gautam.
To avoid a disaster, the site operators have therefore made a decision: the base camp will move from its traditional location. By 2024, it will descend 200 to 400 meters down the side of Everest; it will therefore be located in an area with a milder temperature.