Melting glaciers are revealing dozens of dead bodies on the world’s tallest mountain, according to news reports.
The treacherous journey to the summit of Mount Everest is riddled with obstacles — falling ice, ragged terrain, biting temperatures and incredible heights that cause altitude sickness. While nearly 5,000 people have successfully climbed the mountain, another 300 are thought to have died along the way. [The World’s Tallest Mountains]
Some of these bodies ended up covered in ice and remained hidden that way for many years. But now, climate change is accelerating the ice melt around them, exposing multiple limbs and bodies, the BBC reported March 21.
Indeed, last year, a group of researchers found that the ice on Everest was warmer than average, and a study conducted four years ago found that ponds on the mountain were expanding with melting ice water, according to the BBC. But it’s not only melting glaciers that are exposing these bodies — it’s also the movement of the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal.
Most of the dead bodies are turning up at the Khumbu Icefall, one of the most dangerous spots on the mountain. There, blocks of ice can unexpectedly collapse and glaciers can slip several feet downhill per day, the Washington Post reported in 2015. In 2014, 16 climbers were killed at once in that area, crushed under falling ice.
Removing bodies from the mountain is a delicate, dangerous and extremely costly task riddled with legal constraints. Nepal’s law, for example, requires government agencies to be involved when dealing with them, according to the BBC.
What’s more, “most climbers like to be left on the mountains if they died” there, Alan Arnette, a mountaineer told the BBC.