I stepped off the plane and saw the high, snow‑encrusted mountains of the Himalaya. We had flown into the village of Lukla. It’s in the Khumbu Region of Nepal. I wouldn’t see Mount Everest until the following day. When I did, I had to look up to the sky to see the summit.
Are you wondering what I was doing here? I was part of an expedition to Mount Everest. I came because our planet is changing. Right now, we’re seeing dramatic climate changes. We don’t fully understand them. This is especially true in extreme environments like high mountains. We don’t have a lot of data for such places.
Here, we know the glaciers provide critical water resources to the millions of people who live in the Himalaya. They also feed the rivers that flow to parts of Asia where more than one billion people live. Rising global temperatures are causing the glaciers to melt.
We want to know more about this. So, I helped collect data. We want to understand how the mountains are changing.
The expedition took months. The entire team collected samples of ice, snow, rocks, water, and lake sediments. We observed and recorded the plants and animals that live at these high elevations. We also set up weather stations.
The Lukla airport is high in the Himalaya.
The base camp manager and I set up a survey station for 3-D mapping.
Before we collected anything, we needed to prepare. We needed to test our equipment in the extreme weather. And we needed to work with our Sherpa climbing team, the key to our success. Sherpas are Tibetan people living on the high southern slopes of the Himalaya. They are known for providing support for climbers.
There are steep slopes of ice and snow on the route to the summit. We used special ice climbing equipment to scale them.
Crampons attached to our stiff boots. These metal spikes stick out the bottom and the front of our boots. They help you to grip icy slopes. Ice axes help, too. You swing the axe into the ice and pull yourself up! The Sherpa team fixed ropes on icy slopes, so that, if you slipped and fell, the rope would catch you. Our route up Everest put our skills to the test.
Sherpa team members attended a ceremony for the safety of our team before a climb.
Crampons on boots and ice axes helped with the climbing.
Each member of the team used ice climbing tools and practiced their technique.