Mount Everest has been making news this year, but for the most unfortunate reasons. Ice and snow cover are depleting at startling pace, and the proliferation of climbers is turning a once pristine landscape into one that’s comparatively congested.
Even in the midst of that, the area’s natural beauty hasn’t yet been eroded. Case in point: this time-lapse video of the Everest “death zone” from Lebanese filmmaker and adventurer Elia Saikaly.
Taken from thousands of still shots Saikaly snapped while there, the movie illustrates an Everest rarely seen by those who don’t visit it themselves.
The filmmaker risked his life to create the piece—first, dragging his film equipment to the summit without the help of any crew, and then almost dying from a lack of oxygen.
The final result of Saikaly’s efforts are all the more appreciated considering the current state of the summit. The past half century has witnessed a severe decrease in ice and snow cover—with snowlines retreating north up to 590 feet—possibly due to global warming.
But ice and snow loss aren’t the mountain’s only threats. The steady increase of summit tourism means not only more feet on the ground, but more debris left behind. The accumulation of summit trash and pollution is a pressing ecological issue that climbers, like the famed Conrad Anker, are trying to stop.
The summit tourism industry also carries another cost—the human toll. About 90 percent of the climbers on Everest are guided clients dependent on a paid company to take them to the peak. Out of these, it’s the low-budget, less experienced operations that are considered to be the cause of an increase in climbers’ deaths.
Still, Everest remains fixed as an ultimate goal for so many, not just because of its beauty, but because of its dangers. While keeping people off it may not be feasible, teaching them to respect it while they’re there should be well within our grasp.
After seeing this video, would you scale Everest if given the opportunity? Let us know in the Comments.
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