Melting glaciers exposing dead bodies on Mount Everest

Khumbu Glacier

KATHMANDU, March 26: As the ice sheets and glaciers are fast-melting because of global warming, the dead bodies on the world’s highest peak are now becoming exposed.

Due to an inhospitable environment for any living thing, the 29,000 feet summit—where the oxygen decreases by about 50 percent and temperature can drop to below 30 degree Fahrenheit, with ascending full of obstacles– is always danger to mountaineers trying to climb it.

Nearly 5,000 climbers have successfully scaled the Mount Everest since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa reached the summit for the first time in 1953. Nearly 300 mountaineers have lost their lives on the peak since the first attempt in 1922.

But the climate change and increasing temperature are exposing the dead bodies remained buried in ice for years.

According to a BBC report, the hand of a dead mountaineer turned up above the ground at Camp 1 in 2017.

Most dead bodies have been surfacing in the Khumbu Glacier in the recent years, reported BBC quoting the mountaineers. Another dead body appeared on the surface of Khumbu ice fall the same year, which is known as the most treacherous route to Everest. The remains of dead bodies are also appearing in Camp 4.

Chunks of ice the size of cars from huge ice towers can fall any minute due to the craggy expanse of glacier skids downhill at a rate of several feet per day in Khumbu Glacier.

Mountaineers have christened the icefall’s most notorious sections with names like “Popcorn Field” and “the Ballroom of Death,” and for years guides have eyed the path through them with unease, said The Washington Post.

In 2016, 16 Sherpa climbers, working for climbing expedition, were crushed beneath the cascading ice mass.

The bodies of climbers who died recently have been brought down. But the old ones are coming out as the glacier melts.

“I myself have retrieved around 10 dead bodies in recent years from different locations on Everest and clearly more and more of them are emerging now,” a liaison officer on Everest told BBC.

The increasing exposure of dead bodies has become a growing concern for the expedition operators because dealing with dead bodies is a herculean task and can be expensive.

Bringing the dead bodies down costs about $40,000 to $80,000, according to BBC.

One of the most dangerous recoveries was at 8,700 meters, near the peak, Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association, told CNN.

“The body weighed 150kg and it had to be recovered from a difficult place at that altitude. It was a Herculean task,” he said.

According to Sherpa, the government lacked proper action and responsibility in removing the dead bodies.

“We don’t get funding from the government in time to remove the dead bodies,” he said.

“But we bring them down whenever we find them,” he told CNN.

(Source: BBC, CNN, The Washington Post)