The Bird’s Word Blog
Are Stranded Everest Trekkers Climate Change Victims?
November 19, 2010
Reports from Nepal this morning indicate about 2000 foreign trekkers are stranded at Lukla, the airstrip closest to Mt. Everest National Park due to unceasing bad weather. Normally, in mid-November more than 50 flights per day ferry travelers between Kathmandu and this tarmac strip at 9,000′ elevation. This year unseasonable weather including high winds, clouds and rain have lingered long after the monsoon normally relents in early October. In the absence of airplane service some helicopters have been able to arrive and some trekkers who are tired of waiting are walking out to the vehicle road about 6 days walk away. The Nepal Army has been approached for assistance in evacuating trekkers. While Everest is the most popular trekking destination in Nepal, we are recommending to our clients that they consider lesser known trekking routes in the Arun Valley, Gorkha and Annapurna regions where air access is not problematic and delays have not been reported. No doubt lots of people now in Lukla are wondering if global climate change is the cause of their dismay. While American politicians may dispute the reality of climate change the farmers and herders of the Himalayas are extremely concerned that unprecedented weather patterns of the past decade have changed the calculus of their subsistence existence. Rains are unpredictable, streams dry up, reservoirs fail to fill, storms of extreme intensity damage crops and steeply terraced fields. None of the traveler’s are likely to die of waiting for a flight, but this may be just another example of climate change becoming ever more perceptible and problematic. Click here for more information on Journeys Nepal trips.