We used drones to take photos from the air.

This LIDAR scan shows us the shape of the land.

Bird's‑eye View

To be standing in the shadow of Mount Everest is exciting. I normally work in an office. I work with all the teams that make maps at National Geographic. I also help collect data by taking “field trips,” like this expedition.

For this expedition, my role was to map the area around Everest Base Camp. I also mapped the Khumbu Glacier, the highest glacier on Earth.

We collected data using many tools. On the ground, we used a technology called LIDAR. It uses a beam of light to measure the shape of the land. From the air, we flew in helicopters to photograph areas we wanted to map.

We also used drones. Using drones at high altitude was hard work! The air is thinner here. So the propellers needed to be steeper to have more “bite” as they spin. A camera on the drone points down at Earth. It takes detailed pictures.

We can stitch all the pictures together to make a bigger picture. We can use this photo‑map to see what the area looks like today. We can also compare it to past maps.

A team member used a drone to help map Everest Base Camp.

The team practiced taking an ice core.

Ice Cores

Our team took ice cores at several locations, too. What’s an ice cores and why do we need it? An ice core is a long piece of ice that is a cross section of the glacier. We use a big drill to pull it out.

Once we have ice cores, we can study a glacier’s layers. We can find out about what the climate was like in the past. We also collected snow samples to see how much pollution was in the snow.

Weather Stations

To measure the changing climate, our team set up automatic weather stations, or AWS. We set up five stations. Each will measure temperature, precipitation, pressure, and solar radiation. Each will send data via satellites to a computer. That way, we can monitor the weather.

Over time, we can see how the weather compares to other places in Nepal and around the world. The longer the record, the better we can assess how the climate is changing. Better weather forecasts will also make climbing safer.

The team set up a weather station.

Science and Exploration

The weeks passed. It wasn’t easy. We had to wait out snowstorms. We had to watch for avalanches and learn how the high altitude would affect our bodies.

Yet, we all returned home safe. With the data we collected and will collect, we can spread the word about what is happening to our high mountains.


The expedition has collected new data about weather and climate. To find out more, visit natgeo.com/everest