Tourist activities and climate change threaten the current site of the base for climbing the world’s tallest peak
According to Taranath Adhikari, Department of Tourism Director General of Nepal, the Nepali government is looking at moving Mount Everest’s base camp some 200-400 meters south. He explained that the nearby Khumbu glacier’s melting – as well as rampant erosion caused by tourist activity – had made the current location unstable.
“This is essentially about adapting to changes at base camp. It has been essential for the survival of mountaineering.,” Adhikari told the BBC last week, stating that “We are currently preparing for relocation. Soon, we will begin consultations with all stakeholders.”
It is hoped that the country will establish the base camp on a location without ice. After securing a suitable location, the government will meet with the local community to discuss possible relocations and then begin the long process of moving the base camp infrastructure up-mountain. The move could be completed as early as 2024, according to the government.
Everest is visited by approximately 1,500 tourists during peak times. The climb begins at the Khumbu glacier base camp at 5,364 metres elevation. At a rate one meter per annum, the glacial ice shrinks rapidly and loses 9.5 millions cubic meters of water every year.
Perhaps more alarmingly – for climbers, at least – cracks and crevasses have been appearing overnight in the areas where people sleep. “The ground cracks so often that it can be dangerous,” Colonel Kishor Adhikari of the Nepali Army told the BBC, adding that “Many of us wake up in the morning with the same chilling feeling we had the previous night.”
It’s not just climate change causing the erosion, either. “Our research revealed that the average person urinates around 4,000 liters per day at the base camp,” Khimlal Gautam, a member of the committee tasked with moving the base camp, said, while large amounts of kerosene and gas used for cooking and staying warm also contribute to the shrinking ice.
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Tourist is Nepal’s fourth most important industry. The country’s main activity that draws in people to Nepal is mountain climbing. Despite not allowing as many climbers on the summit, climbing permits were still issued by Nepal even during the Covid-19 epidemic.
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