Climate Change Affecting Himalayas
February 29, 2012

Climate Change Affecting Himalayas

Apa Sherpa, who holds the record for climbing Mount Everest a total of 21 times, has noticed a change on the world´s largest peak. He has noticed that snow and ice are disappearing from the mountain making it difficult to climb.

He recently told the AFP news agency: “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 rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers.”

The climb up Everest, Apa noticed, has become more treacherous.

He told the Daily Mail that when he first began climbing the world´s tallest peak, the summit was covered with snow and ice. But now the melting ice has exposed deep crevasses, making expeditions extremely dangerous. He added that “climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons [spiked footwear designed for climbing on ice] but it´s very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons.”

According to research published by the Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year, Himalayan glaciers have shrunk by 21 percent in the last 30 years. And the change is accelerating.

ICIMOD conducted a three year research project that showed 10 glaciers in the region shrunk in the survey with an accelerated change between 2002 to 2005, AFP reports.

Climate change in the Himalayan range can affect 1.3 billion people as the glaciers provide food and energy for them in the river basins downstream.

Apa Sherpa, also called the “Super Sherpa”, and partner Dawa Steven Sherpa are observing the changes happening to the majestic mountain range by taking a 120 day walk dubbed the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek, they are expected to finish on May 13.

The walk, AFP reports, is the first official expedition trekking the length of Nepal´s Great Himalayan Trail and will cover some of the world´s most rugged landscapes. The duo will ascend beyond 6,000 meters (19,600 feet).

Apa Sherpa told the AFP that, “I want to understand the impact of climate change on  other people but also I´d like tourism to play a role in changing their lives as it has changed mine.”

Fifty-one year old Apa started his working life as a farmer but moved to tourism when a glacial lake burst in 1985, destroying all his possessions. Today others are having their lives changed. Apa said, “Right from the beginning we saw the effects of climate change on tea plantations in Ilam district. These areas would not normally get frost and it is destroying their entire crop. These are cash crops that employ thousands of people, even on one farm.”


On the Net: