Everest Base Camp in Nepal will soon be moved from its original position as the famous Himalayan trekking site faces a significant threat from global warming and the impacts of increased human activity.
The base camp – perched 5,364m above sea level on top of the melting Khumbu Glacier – attracted some 1,500 people from around the world last spring.
A viable location for the new base camp has been found at a lower elevation that has no year-round ice, Taranath Adhikari, director general of Nepal’s tourism department, told the BBC.
The new campsite for climbers will be located 200 to 400m lower than the existing one, the official added.
“We are now preparing for the relocation and will soon begin consultations with all stakeholders,” Mr Adhikari said.
“It’s basically about adapting to the changes we’re seeing at base camp and it’s become essential for the sustainability of the mountaineering activity itself.”
The rapid melting of the ice cap atop the Himalayas as a result of the climate crisis is destabilizing the base camp glacier, confirmed by climbers who said crevasses emerged beneath them while they slept.
Arguably the best-known campsite in the world, Everest Base Camp is now at an altitude of around 50m lower than it was in 1953 when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary climbed the highest mountain of the world.
According to climbers frequenting the site, puddles have been seen on rocks as high as the South Col – a mountain pass – at 8,000m.
The ice at Base Camp is thinning at a rate of 1m per year, a 2018 University of Leeds study showed.
People also reported frequent loud noises caused by moving ice or crumbling rocks in the camp area.
The crisis was hastened by melting ice forming a stream that runs through the middle of the camp during the day, but freezes at night.
Officials aware of the camp’s growing vulnerability said the glacial flow was growing larger each year, with the flow moving at an alarming rate, according to a local report from the Nepali time.
It doesn’t help that base camp’s popularity attracts more climbers every year, barring the lull created by the Covid pandemic.
Climbers often set up kitchen tents with gas stoves and leave trash behind, said official Khimlal Gautam, who has summited Mount Everest twice and says he spends about a month at base camp every year.
Everest Base Camp manager Tshering Tenzing Sherpa, who works in conjunction with the Sagarmatha Regional Pollution Control Committee, has previously said the existing site will be fit for use for three to four years in the future. maximum.
Government officials, however, told the BBC that the camp relocation could take place as early as 2024.
Mr Adhikari said they would discuss the move with local communities and include their views on the cultural aspects of the move. He added that the authorities are reviewing the technical and environmental aspects of the new base camp site.
The relocation of the base camp will only take place after it has been discussed with all stakeholders, he said.