Sherpa speaks out on global warming

Rising temperatures are melting snow and turning the slopes of Mount Everest barren, making it even harder to scale the world’s tallest peak, according to the Nepali Sherpa who holds the record for climbing the mountain, Reuters reported. Apa Sherpa climbed the 8,850-metre peak last week – his 19th ascent -- to highlight the consequences of climate change on the Himalayas.

A snow trail along the route to the peak was now just a stretch of bare rocks, Sherpa said, as climate change pushed up snowlines and shrank glaciers. “This makes climbing the mountain difficult because walking on naked rocks wearing crampons is hard,” he told Reuters. During the recent expedition, he carried a banner reading: “Stop Climate Change; Let the Himalayas Live!”

Rising temperatures are rapidly shrinking the Himalayan glaciers from which several Asian rivers originate, threatening the lives of millions of people who depend on them for water.

In addition to the impact of climate change, the environment of Everest — Sagarmatha in Nepali — also is threatened by the tonnes of trash left behind by climbers, campaigners say. Sherpa said his team had picked up more than five tonnes of trash on the mountain, including old tents, ropes, plastic and gas canisters, parts of an Italian helicopter that crashed in 1973 and human waste.

Sherpa carried a metal vase containing 400 sacred Buddhist offerings and placed it on the summit, in hopes of restoring the sanctity of the Himalayas and raising awareness of climate change. “There is only one Sagarmatha, which is the heritage of the entire world,” Sherpa said. “We must maintain it and keep it clean.”

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