Mount Everest is losing snow and turning “dry and rocky”, Britain's record holding climber Kenton Cool has said.
Cool, 49, who made his 17th ascent of the world’s highest peak this week, the most by a foreigner, said on Saturday that the mountain appears to be drying out.
Cool, who climbed the 8,849-metre (29,032 foot) mountain for the first time in 2004, said the phenomenon could be a sign of climate change.
“If you go back to early mid-2000s there used to be a lot of snow,” he said in Kathmandu after returning from his record-setting expedition which was confirmed by Nepali and hiking officials this week.
“A general trend of the mountain is to be more rocky and less snow … but it changes year on year.”
He said he had never seen the types of rock falls he saw on the Lhotse Face, along the route to the Everest summit, before.
“That shows how dry the mountain is now. I think that is because of the lack of precipitation, a lack of snowfall. It could be global warming or any environmental change of some sort,” he said.
Climate scientists said the earth’s temperature has increased by an average of 0.74º Celsius over the past 100 years, but warming across the Himalayas has been greater than the global averages.
Officials said the average temperature in Nepal was rising by 0.06ºC annually, due in part to its location between China and India, two of the world’s heaviest polluters.
Cool said his 17th ascent might not be the last and he would return to the mountain next year.