“Mountain People Unaware of Climate Change”

Aug 29th, 2014 | By | Category: Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Governance, News

27395Republica: Mountain communities are unaware of and unconvinced about climate change that is posing threats to their lives and livelihood, said the first three Nepali women to successfully climb K2, the world´s second highest and most difficult mountain.

Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, Maya Sherpa and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, who set the record of being the first Nepali women to successfully climb K2 on July 26, said the Himalayan glaciers are melting faster than ever before but people living in the high mountains are either unaware of or unconvinced about the reality of climate change. 

“In my decade-long career in mountaineering so far, I have observed noticeable changes in weather patterns of the high Himalayan region,” said Pasang Lhamu, a 30-year-old mountaineer from Solukhumbu district. “But, most people in my own community are ignorant about climate change. Many other people are skeptical about the reality of climate change.” 

“This is why we made climate change awareness as one of the main objectives of our expedition,” said Pasang Lhamu, sharing her experience at a talk program hosted by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on Wednesday. The ICIMOD had supported the all-women K2 expedition as part of its commitment to integrate women into climate change research and adaptation and sustainable development in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) Region. 

Maya Sherpa, a 35-year-old mountaineer from Okhaldhunga district, said they observed the impacts of climate change in the high Himalayan region during their K2 expedition. 

“We noticed how snow cover is disappearing in some parts of K2,” said Maya talking to Republica. “An example of this is House´s Chimney, a huge rock right below camp-2 of K2. We heard that it used to be covered with thick snow earlier, but now looks like just an ordinary rock.”

Maya said climate change could have adverse impact on the lives of mountain people. “But, most people in our mountain community lack awareness. May be, they lack interest,” said she. “This is why we raised this issue as part of our expedition. We want to send this message beyond the mountain communities.”

Dawa Sherpa, another member of the all-women K2 expedition group, said their happiness knew no bounds when they finally set their feet on K2. “It was like winning a war,” said Dawa. 

The all-women K2 expedition members are now planning to release a photo book and a video about their observations that they made during arguably the world´s most difficult ascent. “K2 is known as a killer mountain,” said Pasang. “We were not certain whether we would return home safely. We are now happy that we are back alive.”

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