Nepal may move Everest base camp

(CNN) — Nepal is considering relocating Everest Base Camp due to environmental concerns.

According to the director general of Nepal’s tourism department, Taranath Adhikari, the location of the base camp is at risk from the melting of the nearby Khumbu glacier.

« We have received recommendations from many stakeholders to relocate the base camp. Although no decision has been made yet, we take these suggestions very seriously, » Adhikari told CNN Travel.

These stakeholders include local residents, mountaineers and environmental experts.

However, any major changes to Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, will not be made in haste.

Since research activities can only be carried out in the spring, it could take 2-3 years to make a decision. Some studies have taken place during this year’s spring climbing season, which typically peaks in May.

Once the parties involved have completed their research, they will likely have to submit a proposal to the Nepalese government. The Nepalese Cabinet would have the final say on a decision.

Adhikari cited « anthropic activities » – otherwise known as human behaviors – and climate change as issues affecting base camp. The Khumbu glacier is melting at a rate higher than the natural rate.

A joint survey by China and Nepal has resulted in a new higher elevation for the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest.

This is not the first time that concerned parties have sounded the alarm over environmental damage to Mount Everest.

A study published earlier this year in the Nature Portfolio Journal of Climate and Atmospheric Science found that the ice formed over a 2,000-year period on the South Col Glacier melted in about 25 years.

Paul Mayewski, expedition leader and director of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, told CNN the results show « a complete shift from what has been experienced in this region, probably for the entire time period. » of human occupation in the mountains. »

Climate change is affecting many of the world’s most precious places.

« Nepal alone cannot reduce carbon emissions and the impact on global warming. » Adhikari said. « However, we can alleviate some problems by taking these kinds of temporary measures. »

He added: « On the one hand, we want to preserve the mountain and the glacier. On the other hand, we don’t want to affect the economy of the mountain. »

Balancing the desires to climb Everest with the needs of local communities has been an ongoing challenge in Nepal.

Tourism is the country’s fourth largest industry, employing 11.5% of Nepalese in some form or another, whether working in a hotel or guesthouse or guiding foreign tourists to the highest mountains of the world.

Permits to climb Everest can cost $25,000 per person. Some of this money goes to communities close to the mountain.

Letting too many climbers climb in the short time allowed by the weather can lead to « traffic jams », which often have deadly consequences.

Mount Everest Base Camp is 5,400 meters (17,700 feet) above sea level.

A proposed location for a new base camp might be 200–300 meters (656–984 ft) below current elevation.

Top image: Camping tents at Everest Base Camp. Credit: TASHI LAKPA SHERPA/AFP/Getty Images

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