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Mt. Everest Getting More Dangerous to Climb: Sherpa

Global warming changing Himalayas, melting glaciers
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2012 4:51 AM CST
Mt. Everest Getting More Dangerous to Climb: Sherpa
Nepalese mountaineer Apa Sherpa, who has scaled Everest a record-breaking 21 times, walks with his team members in Sindhpalchowk, north of Kathmandu.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Climate change appears to be hitting even the highest place on Earth, the Himalayas. A leading Nepalese mountaineer says the mountain range, including Mount Everest, has lost much of its snow and ice, making it now more prone to rockfalls and more dangerous to climb, reports AFP. "In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers," says Apa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest 21 times.

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The mountains are also more dangerous, he says, because climbers wear crampons (large steel cleats) for climbing in the snow and ice, but crampons are dangerous to wear on rock. Researchers say the Himalayas' glaciers have shrunk 21% over the past 30 years. "What will happen in the future I cannot say but this much I can say from my own experiences—it has changed a lot," said Apa Sherpa, who is making the first official hike of the entire 1,100-mile Great Himalayan Trail since it opened last year. (Read more Mount Everest stories.)

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