It was almost inevitable that a high mountain like Mount Everest (8,848m) would become a high profile platform for environmental issues. On December the 7th 2009, the UN Climate Change Conference will begin in Copenhagen, but green campaigns are already under way to put pressure on world leaders to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The most daring stunt aiming to influence the Copenhagen summit from Everest’s summit had been planned by an Indian expedition. They intended to draw attention to the effects of global warming by skiing from Everest’s peak down to Everest Base Camp and, in doing so, set a high-altitude skiing record. Unfortunately, an increase in avalanche risk from heavy snows meant they had to abandon the expedition.
Base Camp Swim Trek
In April 2010, a hardy individual and adventurer, called Lewis Gordon Pugh, is planning to use his courage to help the environmental cause in Nepal. Lewis is a long-distance swimmer who has previously demonstrated his remarkable constitution and determination by swimming in the sub-zero Arctic Ocean. He put up with the intense cold on that occasion to draw media attention to the receding icecaps, and intends to stage a similar publicity stunt at Everest next year to draw attention to the disappearing glaciers in the Himalaya and worldwide.
Wearing only trunks and goggles, he will swim a kilometre in the Khumbu Glacier’s lake, close to Everest Base Camp. Lewis expects the experience will be « excruciating », and points out that there aren’t facilities to take a hot shower on the mountain. There will be a dinghy accompanying him on his freezing swim in case he gets into difficulty, and Lewis has enlisted the help of some Sherpas to haul the escort boat along the Everest Base Camp Trek trail to the lake.
As part of an ongoing odyssey, Japanese cyclist Keiichi Iwasaki has shown he is the ultimate green traveller, setting an example for everyone. Keiichi has been travelling around the world for years, but has been doing it entirely under his own steam: by bicycle. During his eight-year journey, he has travelled through thirty seven countries and had amazing experiences, all at a low cost to the planet and his pocket.
One of the stops on his grand tour was Nepal, where Keiichi diverted his round-the-world bicycle trek to Everest Base Camp so he could summit the world’s tallest mountain. He successfully reached the peak of Everest in 2005, having clearly developed the necessary stamina and lung power from all those hours of cycling. Because of this, Keiichi has earned the curious accolade of being the only man known to have journeyed from sea-level to the top of Everest unassisted, in other words, using just his own power.
The Everest Trekking Environment
Despite concerns for its preservation, the Everest landscape is far from ruined. It remains an incredibly beautiful and varied environment that changes visibly at different altitudes; something that can be witnessed on the many trekking routes through the Himalayan countryside.
These treks are predominantly led by Nepalese guides who take pride in their country and its maintenance, and come from communities living along the Everest Base Camp Trek trails, communities that have learned to have a limited impact on their surroundings. It’s a lesson the rest of the world needs to learn in order to preserve our planet’s most breathtaking and vulnerable environments.
About the Author
Jude Limburn Turner is the Marketing Manager for Mountain Kingdoms, an adventure tour company who have run the Everest Base Camp Trek for over 20 years. They now offer treks and tours worldwide, including destinations in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Central and South East Asia.
(ArticlesBase SC #1443049)
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