Himalayan Sherpas lament climate change devastation

Feb 26, 2012 by Frankie Taggart
Nepalese mountaineer Apa Sherpa (C) is expected to complete his 120-day 'Climate Smart Celebrity Trek' on May 13. Apa Sherpa has warned that climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb.

Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world's top mountaineers have warned.

Apa Sherpa, the Nepali climber who has conquered a record 21 times, said he was disturbed by the lack of snow on the world's highest peak, caused by rising temperatures.

"In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers," he told AFP.

"Also, climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons but it's very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons."

A Tibetan farmer watches over sheep on the banks of Yamdrok-So lake surrounded by the high peaks of the Himalayas in 2007. Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world's top mountaineers have warned.

Speaking after completing the first third of a gruelling 1,700-kilometre (1,100-mile) trek across the Himalayas, Apa Sherpa would not rule out the possibility of Everest being unclimbable in the coming years.

"What will happen in the future I cannot say but this much I can say from my own experiences -- it has changed a lot," he said an an interview with AFP in the village of Gati, 16 kilometres from Nepal's border with .

The 51-year-old father-of-three, dubbed "Super Sherpa", began his working life as a farmer but turned to the and mountaineering after he lost all his possessions when a burst in 1985.

He is on a 120-day walk dubbed the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek with another of the world's top , Nepali Dawa Steven Sherpa, with the pair expected to reach the finish on May 13.

The expedition, the first official hike along the length of Nepal's Great Himalayan Trail since it opened last year, will take in some of the world's most rugged landscapes and see the duo ascending beyond 6,000 metres (19,600 feet).

Nepal's Apa Sherpa , who has scaled Everest a record-breaking 21 times, in Sindhpalchowk on February 23. Apa Sherpa says climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb.

"I want to understand the impact of on other people but also I'd like tourism to play a roll in changing their lives as it has changed mine," said Apa Sherpa.

Research published by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year showed Nepal's glaciers had shrunk by 21 percent over 30 years.

A three-year research project led by ICIMOD showed 10 glaciers surveyed in the region all are shrinking, with a marked acceleration in loss of ice between 2002 and 2005.

Scientists say the effects of climate change could be devastating, as the provide food and energy for 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins.

Environmental campaigners refer to the mountain range as the "third pole" and say the melting glaciers are the biggest potential contributors to rising sea levels after the North and South Poles.

A view of the 8,848 metre (29,028 feet) high Mount Everest. Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world's top mountaineers have warned.

Scientists blame confusion and scepticism over climate change on a blunder in a 2007 United Nations report which falsely claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by as soon as 2035.

On the ground, however, mountain communities are already alarmed by dramatic shifts in weather patterns, two-time Everest summiteer Dawa Steven Sherpa told AFP as he and Apa completed the first 530 kilometres of their trek.

"Right from the beginning we saw the effects of climate change on tea plantations in Ilam district," he said.

"These areas would not normally get frost and it is destroying their entire crop. These are cash crops that employ thousands of people, even on one farm.

"From what the local people are saying, it's getting colder in the winter and hotter in the summer and it is the cold they are worried about."

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User comments : 18

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mememine69
1.2 / 5 (21) Feb 26, 2012
I dare any "scientist" or arm chair scientist reading this, to say out loud; "Climate Change crisis is real.", because only a comet hit could be worse than a climate crisis and if there were legal consequences for condemning my kids, you lab coat consultants wouldn't be shooting your mouths off.
If you scientists really believed in a climate crisis, you would be the ones marching and acting like it was a crisis, not the dozen or so we see now. A climate crisis would be the ultimate disaster.
Exaggeration trumps scientific consensus.
StillWind
1.2 / 5 (21) Feb 26, 2012
"consensus" is a meaningless term in science. Hymalayan glaciers are stable or growing according to all recent data. This is nothing but marketing.
Doom1974
4.7 / 5 (14) Feb 26, 2012
StillWind
Get your head out of the sand!! Himalayan glaciers according to GRACE satellites are losing 4 billion tons of ice every year!! You are the propagandist marketeer...Stop reading Watts and Monckton the pseudo-scientist liars.
djr
4.7 / 5 (15) Feb 26, 2012
StillWind - wld u have any sources supporting that claim? Here is a recent article from Physorg that claims the complete opposite. http://www.physor...ial.html Also - cld u share your credentials for being able to discredit scientific articles. Thx.
entropyrules
1.3 / 5 (16) Feb 26, 2012
The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years study shows: www.guardian.co.u...ountains
djr
4.8 / 5 (16) Feb 26, 2012
"The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years study shows" Did you even read the article? Did you even read the original article in Nature? Here's the first sentence "Glaciers and ice caps (GICs) are important contributors to present-day global mean sea level rise" From the Guardian article "lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges sometimes dubbed the "third pole" are definitely melting." Talk about cherry picking......
Skepticus
4 / 5 (16) Feb 26, 2012
Interesting. Armchair experts here disagree with the guy who reached the summit of Mt. Everest 21 times about disappearing ice and snow.
RazorsEdge
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 27, 2012
I don't trust anyone's memory, particularly someone who's paid to speak. Show me some time-lapse pictures of Everest.
If ice seems to disappear from Everest it's because the rate of snowfall is less than the rate of sublimation. A drought will do fine for a cause.
deepsand
3.4 / 5 (20) Feb 27, 2012
Nice to see that the denialists are still as deaf and blind as ever.

It's good to have a least one constant that we can count on.
Excalibur
3.3 / 5 (19) Feb 27, 2012
Those who do not believe Apa Sherpa's memory will find this time lapse video informative: http://piv.pivpiv.dk/

djr
4.5 / 5 (10) Feb 27, 2012
"I don't trust anyone's memory" - nothing wld convince u Razor - not data - not research - not time lapse video - not the experience of someone who has climbed the mountain 21 times. You will just move the bar. We don't have time lapse video - but we have photographs taken in 1921 that will show the massive loss of ice mass - http://www.youtub...9F8WKXVU We have glaciologists who have studied the glaciers for decades making videos - http://www.youtub...=related We have the most comprehensive assessment of Himalayan ice melt http://www.physor...ial.html But nothing will change your mind if you have already decided.
gregor1
1 / 5 (12) Feb 28, 2012
@dir Your persistent public displays of intellectual thuggery in these threads does little to promote your cause. In fact I have you and your friends to thank for looking further into this issue and discovering how flimsy and unscientific the alarmist case actually is. You are so effective in this regard that I'm beginning to suspect you are in the pocket of big oil yourself. Either that or you just have an aversion to basic scientific enquiry.
gregor1
1 / 5 (7) Feb 28, 2012
@dir The Pysorg link you posted refers to a study of 10 out of the 54,000 glaciers in the himalayas. This is cherry-picking in the extreme and in no way represents a representative sample. The Guardian Study is from satellites over the whole area. (Funny physorg didn't see fit to report this)
"The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges sometimes dubbed the "third pole" are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.
rubberman
3.4 / 5 (8) Feb 28, 2012
Well Gregor, you go ahead and finance the study of the other 53990 glaciers over the next decade to see if they are doing the same thing as the 10 that were studied, and in the meantime we'll take the word of the guy who's been up the mountain 21 times. Also, just curious if you understand the ramifications of adding mass to the top of a strucure while simultaneously removing it's lower support structure.....
gregor1
1.2 / 5 (10) Feb 28, 2012
@rubberman. No need , the work has been done as outlined in the Guardian article. The sherpa's observations could be for any number of reasons. It may be drought or a localized effect caused by deforestation. It could be black carbon, or it could simply be that the sherpa started climbing in a series of heavy snowfall years.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 28, 2012
I dare say that the run on sentence below is entirely meaningless.

"I dare any "scientist" or arm chair scientist reading this, to say out loud; "Climate Change crisis is real.", because only a comet hit could be worse than a climate crisis and if there were legal consequences for condemning my kids, you lab coat consultants wouldn't be shooting your mouths off." - mememe
gregor1
1 / 5 (8) Feb 28, 2012
I couldn't work it out either. I think they meant to say "not real"
gregor1
1 / 5 (8) Mar 02, 2012
"A three-year research project led by ICIMOD showed 10 glaciers surveyed in the region all are shrinking, with a marked acceleration in loss of ice between 2002 and 2005." This looks to be bogus please read about the genesis of this "Research" here and make up your own mind
http://www.quadra...pachauri