The Nepalese government has announced plans to move Everest Base Camp further down the mountain due to global warming. Nepal’s Base Camp, which was established by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, currently sits on the Khumbu glacier. That glacier is melting rapidly, thanks to rising global temperatures and the sheer number of climbers on the mountain each year, making it increasingly unsafe.
The Khumbu glacier is the highest glacier in the world and until recently, formed an incredibly slow-moving frozen river that flows down the west face of the world’s biggest mountain at the rate of about three feet per day. However, back in 2015, The Smithsonian (opens in new tab) reported that it was "melting faster than ever, forming lakes as long as several football fields" and speculating that it might entirely vanish by the end of the century.
According to the BBC (opens in new tab), even though most of the glacier is covered by rocky debris that has fallen down the mountain, surrounding ice cliffs are melting which is causing more dangerous rock falls than ever, melt water and – perhaps most alarmingly – massive crevasses which appear overnight while expeditions are sleeping.
In addition to rising global temperatures caused by carbon emissions, the committee recommending the move found that the growing number of people at Base Camp – reported to be around 1500 people every year – was adding to the problem by contributing about 4,000 liters of urine to the area each day, in addition to the heat from gas camping stoves used for cooking.
On the recommendations of a government-appointed committee, the new Base Camp is to be established at a yet-to-be-determined location further down the mountain, off the glacier, potentially as soon as 2024.
What does all this mean for potential Everest trekkers? Well, a longer trek from Base Camp to Camp 1 for starters, which is already almost four miles across treacherous frozen terrain. The current Base Camp sits at 17,598ft above sea level, and to get it to stable ground, it needs to move between 650 and 1300ft lower. The good news is that Everest hopefuls will be sleeping in safer conditions, and the move will help prolong the life of the precious Khumbu glacier.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.
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