British mountaineer Kenton Cool, who recently marked his record 17th ascent of Mount Everest, shared alarming observations about the changing conditions of the world’s highest peak. He noted that the iconic mountain appears to be losing its snow cover, increasingly revealing a “dry and rocky” landscape.
At 49, Cool holds the record for the most ascents of Everest by a non-Nepalese climber. He first reached the summit of the 8,849-metre (29,032 foot) mountain in 2004. Speaking to Reuters after his latest climb, Cool revealed his concerns about the evident transformations on Everest.
“Comparing the current state to the early to mid-2000s, the amount of snow has significantly decreased,” Cool explained. He noted, however, that changes vary annually. “A general trend of the mountain is to be more rocky and less snowy,” he added.
He also described an unprecedented occurrence on his recent expedition – witnessing rock falls on the Lhotse Face, a part of the traditional Everest climbing route. “That shows how dry the mountain is now, possibly due to a lack of precipitation, a lack of snowfall. It could be a consequence of global warming or some sort of environmental shift,” he postulated.
Climate scientists have observed a global average temperature increase of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past century. However, temperature changes across the Himalayas have exceeded these global averages. Official reports attribute Nepal’s annual average temperature rise of 0.06 degrees Celsius to its geographical position between China and India, two of the most significant global emitters.
Despite these environmental changes, the allure of Everest remains. This week, 53-year-old Nepali guide Kami Rita Sherpa set a new record, reaching the summit for an unparalleled 27th time. As for Cool, he plans to return to Everest next year, although he foresees bidding farewell to the peak after another 2-3 years. His future mountaineering ambitions include tackling Nepal’s Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, and Makalu, the fifth-highest.