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Everest Day celebration: Summiteers call for action as rising temperature threatens Nepal's mountains
Kathmandu: Everest summiteers have called for action as rising temperatures continued to threaten Nepal's mountains as the nation on Monday celebrates the Platinum jubilee of the successful ascend of the world's tallest peak Mount Everest in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and New Zealander Edmund Percival Hillary.
Hundreds of mountaineers, Everest summiteers gathered in Kathmandu and held an awareness rally through the streets of Kathmandu. They were later felicitated by the government for their forte to scale the highest peak in the world. Speaking to ANI, Sanu Sherpa, Everest summiteer as well as the recipient of Mount Everest Award said, "70 years after Tenjing (Norgay) Sherpa scaled world's highest peak Mount Everest, I also being a Sherpa am really happy and wish this happiness remains there for eternity."
The Sherpa community of Nepal is mainly dependent on mountaineering and expeditions. They have been assigned to fix the ropes to the summit for climbing enthusiasts.
For being stronger in high altitudes, Sherpas are well-suited for alpine-style expeditions in the Himalayas. Climbers mainly need them to carry oxygen, and safety gear on the summit path. Sherpas are highly recognized as elite mountaineers and experts in high-altitude adventures.
On Monday, those awarded with badges were mainly members of the Sherpa community which includes Kami Rita Sherpa dubbed as Everest Man who has ascended the 8848.86-meter peak 28 times, the highest climbs so far.
As the Sherpas have been helping and setting out records, there is a renewed call for the protection of the Himalayas which is the main source of income for cash-strapped Nepal as well as the backbone of mountaineers.
Speaking to ANI, Mingma David Sherpa, Nepal's record holding climber said, "The gravity of climate change is rising in high-Himalayas. The summit window usually exists from May 15 to 25 for Everest. There has been heavy snow-fall if we talk about this season. Last season also there was snowfall around Kathmandu and the snowfall which used to be witnessed in December only came in mid-April (in Everest region). The snowfall had impacted the climbing season and there have been renewed incidents of avalanches across high-lying areas of Nepal. It might be a good scene to watch but is a serious issue. We can see the movement of Everest Base Camp, outburst of glaciers and avalanches in recent times."
David Sherpa holds the record as the youngest climber to summit all 14 peaks above 8000 meters.
The mountaineers who have been going to the peaks time and again also have renewed the call to take action against climate change. They also have recorded a meltdown of snow resulting in a contraction of trekking time. Trek across the icy path previously completed in about five to six hours now can be completed in barely an hour due to the melting down of glaciers, exposing the rocks.
Mingma David Sherpa said, "As a climber, today is an important day for us because Mount Everest was ascended on this day- 29 May 1953. The impact of climate change lay high on the climbers. If there is not enough snow, there will be shortage of water as well and it not only would impact the climbers but also the entire ecosystem."
Recent research has also found that Mount Everest's glaciers have lost 2,000 years of ice in just the past 30 years. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) working in the field of mountain and ecological conservation has called on to work on the aspect of climate change.
"70 years since the first successful ascent of Everest, the tallest mountain on earth -Chomolungma, 'Goddess, Mother of the World', as it is known in Tibetan, and Sagarmatha, 'Head above the Clouds' in Nepali - is undergoing unprecedented and largely irreversible change," the organization stated launching its new awareness campaign.
Researchers also have found that the South Col Glacier also has lost more than 54 meters of thickness in the past 25 years alone.
Speaking to ANI, Purnima Shreshtha, Record Holding Nepali Female Climber said, "As we celebrate Everest Day and advertise our mountains we also need to work on the side of its preservation. I got fascinated by the beauty of the mountains and started the ascends but now am seeing the beauty fading- the snow is melting fast which is eroding the beauty. In order to protect the mountain climbers from Nepal as well as across the globe should stand together and work on its preservation and ways to mitigate the impacts."
Purnima Shrestha is a record-holding Nepali female climber to summit Mount Dhaulagiri and aims to ascend all 14 peaks above 8000 meters. This year, Nepal has seen a high influx of climbing aspirants as the Department of Tourism has issued permits to 478 fee-paying individuals, the highest permits issuance on record, to climb Everest.
Earlier in 2021, Nepal had issued a record 409 permits which had overcrowded the summit which often is blamed for the high fatalities that year. A year later, the number dropped to 325 taken as an impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and recession that is coming forth this year.
Nepal charges USD 11,000 from foreign climbers to take permits for Mount Everest. However, the expenses range between USD 40,000 to 90,000 to climb the mountain. The cost of an expedition rises further when the weather is not favourable as it normally lasts for only two weeks in a year.
Speaking to ANI, Nima Nuru Sherpa, Nepal Mountaineering Association President, said, "As we celebrate the 70 years of Mount Everest's successful ascends we now are facing herd of challenges. The expedition pattern which existed 70 years before and that exists now has changed.
He further said, "Amongst them, the issue of global warming is coming forth with much gravity. The issues of management of expeditions also come forth as a challenge for us over which we have to work."
Close to 7,000 mountaineers have climbed Everest from the Nepal side since Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and New Zealander Edmund Percival Hillary first set foot atop the world's highest peak on May 29, 1953. (ANI)