The Nepal Ministry of Tourism is back to its old games of playing the mainstream press to make themselves look like credible custodians of Mount Everest. In this year’s spin, they floated, not announced, but said they were considering moving the current location of Everest Base Camp, EBC, a bit lower to be off the foot of the current Khumbu Icefall. They cited environmental reasons.
As widely quoted, Taranath Adhikari, director-general of Nepal’s tourism department, said
“It will not make it harder to climb but it will make it safer because we have to focus on sustainability, If you can climb the mountain, but the next generation cannot, that is not good. We have to preserve the mountain.”
While it’s true that these days, there are small streams of water flowing throughout base camp, it’s not new. Nor that there are sounds of ice creaking as summer approaches, and tent platform meting out. After all, today, EBC does sit directly on top of the toe of the Khumbu Glacier.
Various scientific studies show the Icefall is melting, and quite quickly. One study showed the glacier had thinned by 40-50’/12-15m over most of the length. Everest Base Camp is lower today due to the ice melting. In 1953 when Hillary and Tenzing summited, EBC was about 17,454’/5320m; today it is 17,322’/5280m. Between 1962 and 2002 the Icefall thinned by an average of 56’/17m, about a rate of 1.3’/39cm per year.
The goal of the MoT is to move EBC off the melting ice to reduce the amount of pollution onto the ice melt and thus villages downstream. In one scenario, it would be located 200 meters lower around 5134 meters from the current 5334 meters. This would add 1.5 miles/2.4 km to reach Crampon Point where climbers begin their ascent of the Icefall proper. Another scenario has it even lower by 400 meters. This would add a significant 4.7 miles/7.5km to a day outing – one way.
Proposed EBC Relocations
Current EBC site
So, is this a bad idea? Certainly not. Is it the most important issue? Not by a long shot not. If Mr. Adhikari was serious about protecting their Crown Jewel aka cash cow, they would consider:
- establish qualifications for climbers and so-called guides
- require all solid human waste be taken down from all camps
- limit the number of permits issued
But this announcement is all about garnishing positive PR, and it’s been going on for years. This slide show, it’s an annual event to announce how Nepal will protect Everest. It should be noted, that virtually none of the rules were enacted or enforced, but each one received wide press coverage.
The MoT said thy are canvassing stakeholders and if a move were to happen it wouldn’t be before 2024.
Memories are everything