Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world so reaching its peak is a highly coveted feat. Unfortunately, the mountain will be largely looking different by the end of the century as researchers project that Everest's glaciers will be melting dramatically due to climate change.
According to researchers from the European Geosciences Union, between 70 percent and 99 percent of the glaciers around Mount Everest will be gone by 2100. Joseph Shea from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development said that glaciers in the region are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and that even continued snowing will not be enough to keep them from melting.
Several things can be expected when the glaciers around Mount Everest melt. For starters, widespread flooding may be unavoidable in the area. Meltwater drains into the Kosi River so an increased amount of water flowing into the river will cause an overflow that will overwhelm low-lying areas around the region.
On the upside, less ice will make the mountain safer for climbers, as most people dying in their attempts to climb Mount Everest succumb to exposure or are victims of avalanches. Aside from making the mountain area warmer, the melt will also reveal more of the actua mountain, making it easier to climb.
However, revealing Mount Everest will also unveil just how much garbage has been accumulating on the mountain through the years, left by the very climbers heading for the summit. There is so much trash that a climbing team from the Indian Army has set out to remove at least 8,000 pounds of waste from camps around the mountain. Maj. Ranveer Singh Jamval, the team's lead, said Mount Everest has now become the world's highest junkyard.
The summit of the Mount Everest was first reached in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa mountaineer, and Edmund Hillary. So far, the most times the summit has been reached is 21, a record held by Nepal's Apa Sherpa. People of all ages have yearned to climb Mount Everest but the oldest to actually do so was Yuichiro Miura from Japan at 80 years old. Temperatures on the mountain can drop to -31 degrees Fahrenheit so it's not surprising that the general success rate for climbers is at just 29.4 percent from 1922 to 2006. Mount Everest has an elevation of 29,035 feet. To reach the base camp on the mountain's southern side, it is necessary to climb 17,600 feet.
Photo: Thomas Wanhoff | Flickr