Nepal has greater heights to scale than Mt Everest

WASH_Achham_Marty_Logan_2018As the ‘custodian’ of Mt Everest, the Nepal Government must make changes to how it manages the precious global resource. But far below, leaders are struggling to overcome other obstacles that block the country’s graduation from least-developing country status.

Earlier this month a National Geographic team set up the world’s highest weather station, very close to the peak of Mt Everest. Its purpose is to monitor the Central Asian Jet Stream, to see how winds and moisture move above 29,000 feet and affect the warming climate. In effect the multinational team has also opened a window to the land where glaciers are born.

With great potential for gleaning information about this much celebrated, increasingly exploited, but little known environment, the weather stations are a exciting advance. Yet you get the feeling that the die is already cast: like its neighbours in the Himalaya Hindu-Kush (HKH) range, Everest is melting.

2/3 of glaciers could melt by 2100

The worst-case scenario in a recent assessment predicts that two-thirds of glaciers in the HKH, which spans from Afghanistan to China, will melt by 2100. Earlier last week another team of scientists announced  they found the internal temperatures of the Khumbu glacier on Everest to be higher than expected, just -3.3C. They predicted accelerated melting in the short term, followed by flooding, droughts and unstable, dangerous conditions for climbers.

This climate peril illustrates the double-barrel challenge facing countries like Nepal: they must provide the basics expected from an increasingly wealthy, globally-savvy population — such as infrastructure, health and education — and at the same time confront global threats like the climate crisis and deadly non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that bedevil rich and poor countries alike. Continue reading

Mt Everest as amusement park

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Photo: Globe and Mail

This is the article I wrote about the overcrowding and deaths on Mt Everest during the spring climbing season that just ended. It was published in the Globe and Mail on 28 May.

Heated discussions continue about how to deal with the growing number of climbers  wanting to scale the world’s tallest mountain. Of course, climbing Everest is a risky endeavour, but I don’t think it should include waiting in a queue for hours at 8,848 metres. I hope that the Government of Nepal takes some steps to address that issue. Also, I see little mention of the potential damage to the environment – this needs to be taken into account too.

The article:

Mount Everest cannot become an amusement park

When I saw the now famous photo of the queue of climbers atop Mount Everest – hordes of people waiting to ascend to the summit – I was awestruck. Such colour, such clarity, in a picture from the top of the world – wow. But the awe quickly became a sinking feeling in my stomach. Continue reading