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Experts make worrisome discovery on Mt. Everest climbing paths: 'The probability of that getting worse … increases'

Dangerous conditions aren't the only things plaguing Mount Everest these days.

Dangerous conditions aren't the only things plaguing Mount Everest these days.

Photo Credit: iStock

Climbing season on Mount Everest was delayed 12 days this year due to treacherous conditions on the section of the climb known as the Khumbu Icefall, Business Insider reported. The reason for the unsafe conditions was higher-than-normal temperatures that could lead to deadly avalanches, which is a consequence of the continued overheating of our planet.

What's happening?

Forty-five people were killed on the Khumbu Icefall between 1953 and 2019, and that number could rise in the coming years if current trends continue. The 1.6-mile stretch is particularly susceptible to avalanches that experts warn could continue to get worse as the planet continues to heat up.

"Going up there one part of the day and coming down the next day could look very different. And the probability of that getting worse with a warmer climate increases," Paul Mayewski, a Mount Everest researcher and climatologist at the University of Maine, told Business Insider.

Why is this concerning?

Dangerous conditions aren't the only things plaguing Mount Everest these days. In many ways, the tourists who arrive every year to make the dangerous and arduous climb are as much of a threat to the mountain as the mountain is to them.

More than 1,000 paying tourists reached the summit last year — each one accompanied by two to three sherpas who carried their gear (including heated tents), cooked for them, and staked out their route up the mountain.

Most of those tourists then left their trash — including discarded oxygen containers, food containers, abandoned tents, and feces — all over the mountain.

As much of Nepal's economy now relies on Everest tourism, the government has responded with confusing rules around trash and littering that may or may not be enforced.

What's being done about the problems with Everest?

Despite these issues, Mount Everest is seeing more tourists attempt the famous climb every year. Though the overheating of our planet may make that climb more difficult in the future, people with virtually unlimited funds will likely find a way to say they climbed Everest one way or another — including by transporting their gear ahead of them via helicopter.

"Will people still be able to do it? Yeah, I think they will," Mayewski told Business Insider. "Will it be more dangerous? Arguably yes — it's already pretty dangerous."

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