Towering 29,029 feet above sea level, the formidable Mount Everest has served to tested the strength and perseverance of humanity's boldest souls -- but, due to the warming effects of climate change, ascending the world's highest peak may become more difficult yet.
Nepalese climbing guide Apa Sherpa has scaled Everest a record twenty-one times and likely knows better than anyone that mountain's rugged terrain, though he says it's becoming increasingly unrecognizable. Like many people living in the Himalayas, this 'Super Sherpa' has seen his fair share of changes to the range's ice coverage and run-off which has impacted farming in the region due to global warming, and he says Mount Everest is beginning to grow impassable because of it.
"In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers," Apa told the AFP, via PhysOrg. "Also, climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons but it's very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons."
While far too many people still believe that the harmful effects of climate change has yet to be convincingly proven, for folks living in the shadow of Everest there remains little doubt. A recent survey of Nepalese farmers found that well over half felt that the weather had been getting warmer in the last decade, with 70 percent saying that water has become less plentiful. But it's not just those relying on snow-melt witnessing a changing landscape.
"What will happen in the future I cannot say but this much I can say from my own experiences -- it has changed a lot," says Apa Sherpa. "I want to understand the impact of climate change on other people but also I'd like tourism to play a roll in changing their lives as it has changed mine."