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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Climbers line a path on Mount Everest last month. As climbers continue to die on Everest, a researcher says it will only get more dangerous with global warming and pollution under the snow.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2019 1:00 am

Everest dealing with pollution, warming

Associated Press

KATHMANDU, Nepal – Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks are increasingly polluted and warmer, and nearby glaciers are melting at an alarming rate that is likely to make it more dangerous for future climbers, a U.S. scientist who spent weeks in the Everest region said Tuesday.

Professor John All of Western Washington University said after returning from the mountains that he and his team of fellow scientists found there was lot of pollution buried deep in the snow, and that the snow was surprisingly dark when they processed and filtered it.

“What that means is there are little pieces of pollution that the snow is forming around, so the snow is actually trapping the pollution and pulling it down,” All said in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.

All and his team spent weeks testing snow on Everest and its surrounding peaks, as well as plants on the foothills.

“The warming temperature is melting the glaciers and the snow around Mount Everest very quickly, so what happens is even when there is a storm, it melts in a couple of hours,” he said. “The glaciers are retreating dramatically because of global warming.”

He said because the glaciers are getting thinner and smaller, it is making it more dangerous for climbers.

The team had been planning to climb both Everest and sister peak Lhotse, but crowding on Everest forced them to change their plans.

Hundreds of climbers had lined up May 22 and 23 to attempt to reach Everest's summit, creating a traffic jam that is being blamed for the deaths of several climbers.

All said it was too risky for his team to collect samples with that many climbers moving very slowly.