KATHMANDU, June 21: The homework to move the seven-decade-old Everest Base Camp a couple of hundred meters below its current point has begun. Director General of the Department of Tourism, Taranath Adhikari said that it was necessary to protect the base camp due to increase in environmental risks as a result of human activities. The Everest Monitoring and Facilitation Committee, set up by the department in the spring of last year, has suggested changing the base camp to facilitate mountaineers in their ascent to Sagarmatha, also known as Mt Everest and previously Peak 15.
At present, the base camp is located at the height of 5,364 meters. It has been decided to move the base camp to its new location by 2021. Although the committee has proposed to shift the base camp by a couple of hundred meters below, the exact place has not been decided, Adhikari shared.
“Further technical study is needed over this topic. An investigation will be conducted regarding the issue with mountaineers, experts and local communities. Parliament should make a decision regarding this,” he said.
Chief Survey Officer Khim Lal Gautam Khumbu, who is also the member secretary of the Everest Monitoring and Facilitation Committee formed by the DoT, argues that the base camp needs to be lowered as the glaciers are melting. "The snow has melted and it seems appropriate to move the base camp to a rocky place," he said.
A scientific study shows that the 2,000-year-old snow on the southern face of Mount Everest has melted in the last 25 years. The study, published in the Scientific Journal Nature led by researchers at the University of Maine in the United States, found that 150 feet of snow had fallen on the southern face. The study concludes that melting is 80 times faster than snow formation. A 2018 study by the University of Leeds in the UK found that a portion of the glacier near the base camp was thinning at the rate of one meter per year. Gautam, who has climbed Mt. Everest twice and has visited the base camp several times, believes that hundreds of climbers who stay in the base camp for many days, results in the snow melting as temperature rises while cooking and urinating.
Meanwhile Mountaineer Kami Rita Sherpa, who has set a world record by climbing Mt. Everest 26 times, argues that there should be no rush to move the base camp. "Moving the base camp does not mean that it will be good. When the base camp is far away, the facilities for the climbers may be less and the climbers may turn towards Tibet,” he said.
He said that the use of electric stoves as an alternative to LPG’s in the region could help in preserving the environment and urged the government to facilitate it. "Our focus is on sanitation and other environmental protection options at the base camp. Do not rush to move the base camp. This requires further discussion and study,”said Sherpa.