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Sherpas To Everest Flies: 'Buzz Off!'

For the first time, sherpas see common house flies at Everest's base camp, sparking concerns over warming temperatures in the Himalayas.

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You would think at 17,585 feet you could escape pesky houseflies. Not so true anymore: Twice this year, Dawa Steven Sherpa has experienced the strange and previously-unheard-of sound of buzzing at Everest’s base camp.

Dawa says seeing flies a few years ago would’ve been unimaginable. He blames a warming trend in the Himalayas for the sightings, in addition to several other frightening changes to the area’s geography.

Dawa, who comes from a family of Himalayan climbers, says it’s not just the mountain that the warming temps are effecting, it’s life for the people that live there, too. From prolonged drought and erratic weather patters to the dangerous threat of glacial lake outburst floods (glofs), everyone is feeling (forgive the pun) the heat of this warming trend.

This already happened on a smaller scale: Last year a small lake on the edge of Khumbu Glacier burst and washed away four bridges on one of the tracks to Everest’s base camp. Apa Sherpa, world record holder for most summits of Everest (19), agrees with Dawa. He most recently reported seeing water running on the South Col (a saddle at 25,984ft between Everest and Lhost mountain)—a first for so high up the mountain.

Dawa also says the cornice of Everest is beginning to break off, and a large crevasse is opening up. “It seems nothing is safe anymore,” Dawa said.

While it seems natural that mountains will eventually fall, glaciers will melt, and natural disasters will happen even without human interference, the rapid appearance of flies serves as a particularly annoying wake-up call. Somebody get Al Gore a fly swatter.

–Jordan Olmsted

Himalayan Sherpas Bugged By The Sight Of House Flies At 5,000m (The Guardian)

Photo Credit: mckaysavage