As someone who dabbles in high-altitude mountain climbing, I’ve been closely following the horrific events on Mount Everest in the past month.
While most news coverage has focused on the lax standards that have allowed hundreds of climbers to be caught above the death zone in complete gridlock (and many die as a result), I stumbled across an equally disturbing trend of late.
Thanks to global climate change, warmer temperatures and melting ice, scores of long-dead bodies are suddenly emerging from their ice tombs on Everest.
In fact, it’s now a routine occurrence for guides and climbers alike to spot human bones poking up from the ground, smooth and ice encrusted.
As one guide told the New York Times, “Snow is melting and bodies are surfacing. Finding bones has become the new normal for us.”
The plethora of long-gone, perfectly preserved climbing corpses has caused something of an ethical dilemma for the climbing community.
Traditionally, people who perished on Everest had been left on the mountain in the exact position in which they expired. (Think the perfectly preserved Roman corpses of Pompeii.)
Now, though, with so many previously buried bodies popping up from the melting ice, the climbing community is faced with a conundrum: Do they leave hundreds and hundreds of corpses on the fabled mountain or ship the remains back to the victims’ families?
All of which brings us back to global climate change.
According to the New York Times, the snowline on Everest is higher than it was just a few years ago. Areas once coated in dense ice are now exposed. Climbers are trading ice aces for rock piton spikes that are hammered into cracks on the mountain’s walls. Trust me when I say that is absolutely mind boggling.
The Nepalese government already has its hands full with far too many inexperienced climbers attempting to summit the world’s tallest peak. Now they have to figure out what to do with the zombie-like remains of previously buried climbers.
For the Climate Denier in Chief, I’d say it’s high time to schedule a State Visit to Mount Everest. Assuming he can make it at least to base camp (which shouldn’t be a problem, given his self-proclaimed physical prowess and fitness), I think the president would get a whole new point of view, literally and otherwise, on global climate change. Let’s hope seeing is believing for Trump. Otherwise, melting ice won’t be the only condition that yields human bodies.