Global warming: a deadly threat to climbers in the Himalayas
Global warming is increasing the risk for climbers practicing high mountain climbing in the Himalayas. According to experts, the risk of deaths due to avalanches will increase.
Over the past 50 years alone, at least 564 people have lost their lives while climbing the Himalayan mountain range. We are talking about a peak that reaches 4500 meters, The Guardian reminds.
At the same time, if we narrow the data down to 14 peaks above 8000 meters and several other prominent peaks above 6000 meters in the Himalayas, there were at least 1400 deaths in mountaineering between 1895 and 2022, 33% of which were caused by avalanches.
Experts have noticed a pattern between cyclone and monsoon impacts in the Indian Ocean and the Himalayan highlands.
How it is explained
The climbing season for most popular peaks in the central Himalayas falls between March and May, before the monsoon begins, and between September and November, after it ends. For a long time, this was the norm and did not cause serious concern.
At the same time, climatologists remind us that sometimes cyclones can really hit the interior of the Himalayan Mountains, causing heavy snowfall and even resulting in human casualties.
Roxie Matthew Call, a climatologist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, noted that "with rapid global warming in the Indian Ocean, monsoons have become more unpredictable, with significant periods of heavy rain and prolonged dry spells, and the occurrence of more frequent and powerful cyclones in both the Arabian and Bay of Bengal Seas."
One of the experts, a forecaster for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, Chris Tomer, warned that we now need to watch what is happening in the Bay of Bengal.
He reminded that it was the weather conditions in this region that caused the blizzard on Mount Everest in 1996, which killed 8 climbers.
"For the last four out of five years, we have had to worry about the situation in the Bay of Bengal during the peak of the Everest climbing season," he said.
In addition, it is important to watch other regions in the Himalayas.
On the popular peaks of the central Himalayas, such as Annapurna and Everest, as well as on mountains that are affected by the monsoon (for example, Nanga Parbat in the western Himalayas), there is a significant risk of avalanches for climbers. The main reasons for this danger are fresh snowfall and unexpected snow storms.
Experts emphasize that the amount of snow has increased significantly over the past couple of years. Avalanche fatalities are also increasing due to the increased density of snow. Wet avalanches restrict the victims' breathing completely. And uneven terrain due to warming significantly increases the number of injuries.
Experts believe that in the future, we should expect increased avalanche activity caused by the instability of the snow cover and temperature.