Mount Everest base camp moving due to climate change

Mount Everest’s most famous base camp is being moved further down the mountain, as ice that took 2,000 years to form slowly melts away.

The south base camp on Mount Everest is just the starting place for climbers, but it’s located on top of a thinning glacier that’s becoming dangerous amid climate change.

Before making his second trip to summit Everest earlier this spring, climber Arthur Prestidge camped at the south base camp near a rock retaining wall.

“That collapsed because of melting ice,” he told CTV National News.

While Prestidge was at the base, he was actually able to wash his clothes in a growing stream of meltwater.

“That river was quite small initially when we got there. When we left, it was pretty big. Huge, in fact,” he said.

Prestige and other climbers will often find crevasses, or deep cracks in the ice, as they make their way up the mountain. But Nepalese officials now say these cracks have been opening up under the tents at the base camp.

With some 1,500 people there during the peak of the season, human presence and human waste at the camp may have some effect. But the melting is also happening higher up the mountain. Prestidge saw it during the first part of his ascent.

“There was a lot of ice melt there, in the Khumbu Icefall,” he said.

Researchers say the whole Himalaya mountain range is warming up. A team from Western Washington University studied conditions there in 2009 and again in 2019.

“The mountains are probably 20 degrees warmer. Everything is melting much more quickly,” John All, director of Western Washington University’s Mountain Environments Research Institute, told CTV National News.

In the last 20 years, the annual rate of glacial melting has doubled, and if the global temperature rising just two degrees over the next 80 years, researchers say almost half of the world’s glaciers will melt away.

They say that could threaten water supplies to some of the most heavily populated countries on Earth.

For now, experts say the plan to move Mount Everest’s base camp is a sharp reminder that the whole world is facing an uphill climb against global warming.

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