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Researchers urge for societal reflection on the impact of mass mountaineering 70 years post-Everest’s first ascent.


Memorials to climbers who lost their lives on Everest. credit: Michel Apollo, CC BY-NC-SA

Mountains – their height, mass, climate and ecosystems – have fascinated humans for thousands of years. But there is one that holds additional meaning for many – Mount Everest, or Chomolungma As the Nepali Sherpa people call it.

For some, the sacred mountain, for others, the highest peak in the world is a challenge and a lifelong dream. Seventy years ago, on May 29, 1953, that challenge and dream became a reality for two members of the… British missionNew Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit, which is 8848.86 meters high.

Their achievement was a testament to their endurance and determination. It was also the culmination of the nationalist impulses of the British campaign on the eve of the coronation of the young Queen Elizabeth.

From our point of view at the present time it also marks a high point, not only in terms of climbing, but in what we now think of as the modern era of mountaineering. Since then, mountaineering has become widely popularized and commercialized – with serious implications for the cultures and environments that support it.

Climbing heights

The early era of mountaineering began in 1786 when Jacques Palmat and Michel Packard summited Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the European Alps at 4,808 metres. From 1854 to 1899 (known as the classical mountaineering period), advances in climbing technology saw ascending peaks through challenging routes become possible and common.

During the modern era from 1900 to 1963, mountaineers rushed into the Andes in South America, explored the polar mountains and began high-altitude climbing in Central Asia.

Shishabangma, the last 8,000-meter peaks of the world to be climbed, was scaled down in 1964, ushering in modern mountaineering. Since then, all the world’s 8,000-meter peaks have been climbed in winter, culminating in Historic winter sizing of 8,611-meter K2 by a Nepalese expedition in 2021.

The record-breaking attack on the 14th highest peak in the world Nirmal Pooja In 2019, it set the stage for a new phase of mass commercial mountaineering—including the expectations and conditions that would have stunned the likes of Hillary and Norgay.

Group mountaineering

Relatively recent flow of what some would call Beginner mountain climberswho might expect luxury packages And guarantee summarization, can have dire consequences.

Sleeping in heated tents, and not preparing their own food or helping move equipment, does not test mental and physical fitness in such challenging environments. Reaching the summit could endanger their lives and the lives of other climbers and rescue teams.

However, the number of people trying to climb famous peaks like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Aconcagua in Argentina has increased exponentially. In 2019, there was 878 successful summits On Everest alone.

The days when real mountaineers looked for new routes and climbed with minimal support are almost gone from commercial peaks like Everest. Many of these commercial climbers would not stand a chance without professional support.

In 1992, for example, when the first commercial mountaineering expeditions began on Everest, 22 Sherpas and 65 paid climbers collected their summaries—one Sherpa for three clients. in this timetwo or even three Sherpas per member of a trading expedition is common.

But the romance and accomplishments of mountaineers’ past, combined with images of social media and the “all inclusive” adventure tourism industry, can lull inexperienced climbers into a false sense of security. On Everest, this led to overcrowding, environmental degradation And Increased risk for all climbers.

During the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal’s Khumbu region – where Everest is located – was effectively shut down due to climbing. But this year, some estimate that the record of more than 1,000 people may reach the top.

Next challenge

Seasoned mountaineers respond to the challenges of overcrowding, pollution, and Social and cultural influences Mountain communities by advocating for more responsible and sustainable mountaineering practices.

They want stricter regulations and better training to protect the fragile ecosystems of the Himalayas and other mountain ranges around the world.

This will require many stakeholders to do their part, including governments, mountaineering organizations, tourism operators and local communities. Ultimately, the future of mountaineering depends on preserving these unique mountain environments in the first place.

Finally, maybe it’s time to introduce the minimum skill requirement to climb the world’s tallest peak.

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest, we need to reflect on the changes that have occurred in mountaineering since then. Ironically, while it has become more accessible and popular, it has also become more difficult and complex.

Taking on those challenges and solving the problems would be the best way to honor the extraordinary achievement of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Introduction to the conversation

This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence. Read the The original article.Conversation

the quoteResearchers say (2023, May 26): 70 years after the first ascent of Everest, the impact of mass mountaineering must be countered, Retrieved May 26, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-years-ascent-everest -impact-mass.html

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