Mount Everest: Dead bodies appearing due to melting glaciers

Harry Cockburn
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Mount Everest: Dead bodies appearing due to melting glaciers

Global warming has contributed to greater numbers of bodies of dead climbers emerging from thinning snow and ice on Mount Everest in recent years, authorities have said.

Since it was first conquered by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 more than 4,800 people have successfully scaled the world’s tallest mountain. Almost 300 people have died during the attempt.

Removing bodies from the mountain is difficult and very expensive, so the vast majority of those who have died while trying to reach the summit remain on the mountain.

Around two-thirds of the corpses are currently believed to be buried beneath ice and snow.

But Ang Tshering Sherpa, the former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association said that "the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed".

He told the BBC this was "because of global warming."

He said: “We have brought down dead bodies of some mountaineers who died in recent years, but the old ones that remained buried are now coming out."

This was backed up by a government officer who worked in the region, who said: “I myself have retrieved around 10 dead bodies in recent years from different locations on Everest and clearly more and more of them are emerging now.”

Several studies have indicated the Himalayas are in the grip of considerable loss of ice from glaciers and the trend is forecast to accelerate.

A report this year, by 210 authors, warned more than a third of the ice in the region will melt by 2100 even if governments take tough action to limit global warming under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Bodies are occasionally exposed by the shifting glaciers, rather than ice loss due to temperature rises and climbers are usually prepared to spot the occasional dead body when they are on the mountain.