Young Sherpas race to raise awareness of glacial lake floods

Mountain Protection

Young Sherpa conservationists are organising a race on June 18 to draw attention to the devastating effects of Global Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) in the Himalayas.

The The Beat the GLOF Action Run will be the highlight of the Imja Tsho Action Event 2009, and has been initiated by Nepali mountaineer  Dawa Steven Sherpa. The race will demonstrate that even the fastest runner cannot escape from a GLOF, a flood which is caused when lakes formed by melting ice burst their natural dams.

The Action Run starts at Imja Lake (5010m), the source of the biggest threat to the people of the Khumbu, and ends at Khumjung Village School, the first school built by Sir Edmund Hillary in Nepal. The route is approximately 42 km and mostly follows the path of the potential GLOF.

Imja Tsho is the fastest growing glacial lake in the Himalayas, and is located along the most popular trekking routes to Mount Everest, posing a threat to mountaineers and local residents.

The action event will include a Khumbu Festival promoting the Sherpa people and their culture. The festival with feature the official inauguration of a centre which will help local people become “citizen-scientists” and Sherpas from the Eco Everest Expeditions 2008 and 2009 will share their experiences with using environmentally friendly technology at high altitudes.

The events are being organised by a group of young adult Sherpa conservationists, Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa, with the help of the Nepali non-profit organisation iDEAS (Initiatives for Development and Eco Action Support), which has been launched by Dawa Steven.