Is climate change making Everest more dangerous?

By Richard Gravelle

In the same week as a British climber tragically died on Mount Everest, Nepalese Sherpas have reported that the effects of climatic warming have made the world’s highest mountain even more dangerous to climb.

A recent report from the Humanitarian Futures Programme has suggested that temperatures on the Tibetan plateau have increased faster than other areas in South Asia, resulting in increased rates of ice and snow melt, as well as less snowfall.  This has caused greater amounts of bare rock to be exposed on Mount Everest, increasing the risk of falling boulders, and making it difficult for climber’s ice axes and crampons to grip the climbing surface.  The report also highlights the threat of highly destructive glacial outburst floods which pose a risk not only to those on the mountain, but also those living in downstream areas.

Almost 3,000 climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s first ascent in 1953.  At the end of a season which has seen around 250 climbers successfully complete the ascent, will climate change prevent this number from rising, and make the highest point on Earth inaccessible?

Sherpas warn ice melt is making Everest ‘dangerous – BBC News

Liverpool man dies after reaching Everest summit – BBC News

The Humanitarian Futures Programme Report: The Waters of the Third Pole

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