Iconic Mount Everest Base Camp Is Moving Due to Climate Change

The mountain's Nepalese camp will relocate after climate change and erosion, including streams of human pee, have made its current location unsafe.
The mountain's Nepalese camp will relocate after climate change and erosion, including streams of human pee, have made its current location unsafe.
Nepal's Everest base camp. Image: Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Nepal plans to move its base camp at Mount Everest, the most popular gateway to the world’s tallest mountain, after a combination of global climate change and local erosion from climbers—who excrete some 4,000 liters of pee at the camp every day in peak season—is making conditions there unsafe, reports the BBC.

Human-driven climate change, which is caused by the consumption of fossil fuels, has accelerated the melting of Khumbu glacier near the location of Nepal’s Everest base camp at 5,364 meters of elevation. The camp is also buckling under the pressures of the roughly 1,500 people that visit during its busiest periods. For decades, a bustling tent city has popped up in that location every year as climbers prepare to summit Everest. In addition to the voluminous urine left at the camp, runoff from kerosene and other waste products are weathering Khumbu glacier, reports Euronews.


The glacier is losing roughly 9.5 million cubic meters every year, a rapid decline that is opening up new crevasses on a daily basis at the busy camp, according to reports from tourists. For the protection of both the natural landscape and the human visitors, Nepalese officials plan to relocate the camp to an ice-free area a few hundred meters below the current site. 

"We are now preparing for the relocation and we will soon begin consultation with all stakeholders," said Taranath Adhikari, director general of Nepal's tourism department, according to the BBC. "It is basically about adapting to the changes we are seeing at the base camp and it has become essential for the sustainability of the mountaineering business itself."

Though there is another base camp on the Tibetan side of Everest, China has kept it off limits to most tourists since 2019, after officials said they were struggling with similar damage from an excess of garbage left by visitors.

As the most iconic mountain in the Himalayas to outsiders, Everest is a powerful herald of the drastic changes that are occurring across this ancient range. Himalayan glaciers have shrunk about ten times faster in the past four decades than during the 700 years before them, an alarming rate that will have major and unpredictable consequences for its communities and ecosystems, reports a recent study in Scientific Reports.

“The ten-fold acceleration in ice loss we have observed across the Himalaya far exceeds any centennial-scale rates of change that have been recorded elsewhere in the world,” according to the study. “By comparison to other world regions the magnitude of the acceleration in glacier mass loss across the Himalayan region is exceptional.”