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Himalayan mountaineers call for unity in battle against climate change

04-26-2012 17:47 BJT

KATHMANDU, April 26 (Xinhua) -- With the conclusion of the 99-day Great Himalayan Trail (GHT) which took place in Nepal as an effort to battle the climate change, participants and organizers called for unity in facing up to climate change and its challenges.

The GHT Climate Smart Celebrity Trek began on January 15 with a team led by renowned mountaineers Appa Sherpa and Dawa Steven Sherpa inviting all concerned and enthusiasts to trek along the 1700 km east-to-west Himalayan range of Nepal.

The trek was aimed at spreading information about climate change in the Himalayan region to the world while also acknowledging the felt impact of climate change and possible threats it could pose in the future to the people of the region and the entire world as a whole.

The trek was also aimed at mapping a trekking route which could further enhance tourism in the sector, thus, improving the livelihood of the rural community of the 20 districts of Nepal and give them more resources in fighting against climate change and its impacts.

Talking to Xinhua after the conclusion of the trek, 52-year-old mountaineer Appa Sherpa, who is also the Guinness World Record holder for climbing Mt. Qomolangma 21 times, expressed his concern over the impacts of climate change which is already hurting different parts in Nepal.

"Agricultural production in different parts of Nepal has been badly affected. It has also affected the lives of the locals," Appa said.

Many of the key agricultural production of Nepal such as tea, orange, cardamom and herbs which yield remarkable revenues to the country have been greatly affected due to the impacts of climate change, according to Appa.

He also said some changes in the pattern of climate were noticed in the trail.

"Places which received a lot of snowfall in the past have been receiving less snow and more rain," Appa said.

Appa also talked about the risks posed by the glacier lakes along the trail.

"A lot of glacier lakes are rising in their size showing signs of possible outbursts," he added.

Glaciers have been the source of fresh water for more than 1.3 billion people the in entire region and a large number of these glaciers are on the risk of outburst with their increase in size.

Appa also mentioned the positive changes that were taking place.

"We did not have to spend nights without electricity. There were solar and micro-hydropower generated electricity which showed that development was reaching the areas," Appa told Xinhua.

"We also noticed positive changes in education. More and more children were going to schools and more importantly mobile and network services were also available," he said adding that if development activities took place at such a pace, then the faces of the rural areas of Nepal would change soon.

Appa also highlighted that though Nepal is not much accountable for climate change, it will have to bear the consequences as it has many mountains lying under it. "Therefore everyone must come together for the cause," Appa said.

The trail which was estimated to be 1700 kilometers and be completed in 120 days ended in 99 days and covered 1550 km.

Answering a question about his experience through the trail, Appa said, "It was certainly not easy. We started the trail in January and in most of the parts, the winter is extremely cold with a lot of snow. Some of the routes were difficult, sometimes we were lost in the jungle, sometimes there was no good food."

Likewise when asked about the similarities with his past record setting climbs, Appa said, "The trail is totally different from the Mt. Everest (Qomolangma) ascend. Both are equally difficult and both require a lot of pledge."

Appa said that he was mesmerized by the beautiful places he came along the trail. "Nepal is definitely beautiful and naturally wealthy. If we develop the access to these places with regular air services and road services, then these places have absolute potentials," he said.

Appa who is himself a victim of climate change and a strong advocate for the benefits of tourism expressed his hope that everybody would come together and join the cause. "We have drawn the line. Now we want everyone to join us," he said.

A farmer by profession, Appa lost everything to a glacier outburst in his village in Thame in Himalayan region in 1985.

Appa gives credit to the tourism industry due to which he started working as a porter and managed to make a better living. The same profession led him to become a world renowned person as the "Super Sherpa" for his numerous Mt. Qomolangma climbs.

"I want to therefore promote tourism in all these areas. They can generate good income and promote better living," Appa remarked.

Talking about his plan after the trail, Appa told Xinhua, "We will present our report to the government and the concerned agencies and begin exploring every possibilities that can build greater avenues for the nation in terms of climate change, tourism promotion and betterment of mankind."

The trail began on January 15 and was organized by the Himalayan Climate Initiative, a non-profit group working towards protecting the climate with support from various donor agencies and private sectors.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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