Everest Diary

If We Don’t Move the Base Camp, It Will Disappears in a Decade – Says Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa

If We Don’t Move the Base Camp, It Will Disappear in a Decade – Says Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa

Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa, senior tourism entrepreneur, climbing historian, conservationist, and Sherpa culture specialist has spoken on the matter of the recent debate whether to move the Everest base camp or not. The chairman of Thamserku Trekking and Yeti Airlines believes that if the base camp isn’t moved from its current location, it will disappear in a decade.

Sherpa just returned from his nearly 2-months long expedition in the Everest region. The climbing historian/entrepreneur stood at the top of the world on 17th May 2023, concluding his ‘Seven Summit’ journey.

The inspirational 63-year-old mountaineer/entrepreneur inspired many after becoming the first Nepali to complete all seven summits scaling. During his expedition to the Everest region, the region’s degrading environment and the base camp’s situation got him worried.

return of senior tourism entrepreneur Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa to Kathmandu
Return of senior tourism entrepreneur Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa to Kathmandu after successful Everest Expedition

Lack of Effective Monitoring

Is Everest Base Camp Moving Soon

Certainly, Mt. Everest being overcrowded by climbers is one of the most concerning issues right now. According to the 63-year-old Sherpa, the unmanaged tents at the Everest Base Camp, along with the haphazard urine and feces problems, are the biggest threat to the Khumbu glacier.

Despite handing out a record-high 454, Mt. Everest climbing permits for the 2023 season, the Government’s attention on the proper monitoring of the region is relatively low. Due to a lack of proper adherence to the management of the gradually overcrowded region that is flocked by thousands of people. Its toll on the environment of the region has become inevitable.

According to the tourism entrepreneur and Sherpa culture specialists, the commercial operators also equally share the blame for the deterioration of the region. This season alone saw over 3,000 people at the base camp, used the open toilets adding up to feces and urine that have been piling up in the base camp for years.

Now, it has not only become a major concern for the conservation of the Everest region but also for the locals downstream who depend on the water source from the Dudhkoshi River.

“Everest Base Camp Can Be Relocated to Gotakshep or Lobuche”

The climbing historian and conversationist believes that the base camp can be relocated to the lower Gorakshep or Lobuche region. And, the current Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5,364 meters could be used as an advanced base camp. The climbers could use the advanced camp and rest for a couple of days to kick-start their expedition to the summit of the tallest mountain in the world, according to Sherpa.

Every season, the trekkers on the expedition to the Everest region dig out snow at the base camp to place tents. This continuous digging of holes on top of the glacier every year is also seen as another major factor that is affecting the base camp as the mountaineering historian.

If the Nepali Government in coordination with the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality don’t take initiatives to address this imminent issue, a threat to the Everest region, Sherpa believes that in the next decade, the camp will move to Base Camp II.

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Limiting the Number of Climbers is Not a Solution

When To Climb Everest?

Although the 63-year-old Sonam Sherpa pointed out some of the very concerning matters about the sustainability and conservation of the Everest region, he believes that cutting off the number of climbers is not exactly a solution.

‘Proper monitoring and management from the government side could help the Everest conservation cause’. Instead of limiting the climber’s number, increasing the Everest royalties, garbage deposits, helicopter landing, and take-off charges could actually be a viable solution. Sherpa further added,

Government to issue individual climbing permits and make it mandatory for each climber to have a Sherpa Guide.” (quote)

The climbing historian/ conservationist also pointed out other key issues in the Everest expeditions like how the unmanaged flights above the base camp were impacting the cryosphere. Including the recent bad reputation earned by Nepal for the traffic jams at the summit of Everest and South Col’s environment that is gradually getting worse due to tents and litter left by climbers in an interview with The Himalayan Times on 30th May 2023.

However, despite the Government’s plan to move the Everest Base Camp to a lower altitude last June, it was struck down by the Sherpa community who were not in favor of the idea. In the Sherpa community, which is the backbone of the mountaineering expedition, not a single person was in favor of the idea, according to Mingma Sherpa, chairperson of Khumbu Pasnglhamu Municipality when he last spoke to BBC on May 2023.

Ashish

Traveller, Travel Blogger and SEO Expert who combines his love for exploration with his talent for writing and digital marketing.

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