Climbers fight uphill task to save ecosystem

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Jul 2018 10:35:11


By Manish Sain,


ONE peak, one month, 700 climbers. Touching the Himalayan skies, the Mount Everest has long called out to the brave of heart and will and this climbing season was no different with an average of more than 23 people summiting the world’s tallest mountain each day.

But this rush to conquer has extracted a toll on the fragile Himalayan ecosystem with mountaineers leaving behind a garbage footprint and the microclimate of the region being impacted, say experts. What is needed is a balance between the economics of the region and its ecology, they say, calling for a restriction in numbers. Many thousands have climbed the 8,848 metre high mountain since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first reached the peak in 1953.

According to Alan Arnette, eminent mountaineer and speaker, over 640 people made it to the Everest last May and this year it was over 700.
While May is the spring climbing season, the autumn season, which is longer and stretches over two months in September and October, sees the same numbers.

In monetary terms, such expeditions add significantly to Nepal’s economy. In a 2011 study, former Nepal Mountaineering Association President Ang Tshering Sherpa estimated that the total economic contribution from Mt. Everest expedition teams in one climbing season of Spring 2011 was over Nepali Rs 64 crore (approx USD 9 million).
Large numbers of climbers not only leave huge footprints in the form of garbage, but also “physically assault” the land, said Anil Prakash Joshi, green activist and founder of the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO).

“This causes deterioration in the microclimatic condition of the region and also adversely affects lower altitude areas. Repeated disturbances generate energy, leading to retreating processes in the glacier system,” Joshi told PTI.
He added that many alpine zones, where temperature is
usually between 1.5 and 3 degrees Celsius, have begin to show shrubby growth, an indicator of rising general temperature in the area.

Arjun Vajpai, 25, who recently summited the Kanchenjunga and climbed the Everest in 2010, feels the balance between economy and ecosystem can only be achieved when climbers take responsibility for their actions.