Climber to take climate message on "unique" trek

KATHMANDU Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:07am EST

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A Sherpa who has climbed Mount Everest a record 21 times, will trek hundreds of kilometers (miles) along some of the world's highest mountains to highlight the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, organizers said on Monday.

Apa Sherpa, 52, will be accompanied by two-time Everest climber Dawa Steven Sherpa on the grueling 1,700 km (1,062 mile) 120-day walk.

The route passes along the length of Nepal's Himalayas going through the shadow of eight of the world's 14 highest mountains including the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) Mount Everest to raise awareness of global warming.

"During the walk we will see the challenges faced by the local people in dealing with the effects of climate change on the remote and poor foothills of Himalayas," Sherpa told Reuters about the trek beginning next week.

Sherpa said he had written to global celebrities like U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore and Britain's Prince Harry inviting them to join him along some parts of his journey saying it would "make the world take notice of our dire situation." However he said none of them had confirmed participation.

Environmental activists say the Himalayan glaciers, the source of several Asian rivers, are shrinking fast due to global warming threatening the lives of 1.3 billion people living downstream in their basins.

In 2009, Sherpa collected a piece of rock from Mount Everest which was presented to U.S. President Barack Obama to highlight the impact of climate change on the Himalayas.

"The international community is now asking us how to help Nepal cope with the problem and we have no answers," Sherpa said.

"During this trek we will try to find out how the mountain people are adapting and what they need to fight the impact of climate change," he said.

Experts say mountainous Nepal is vulnerable to climate change despite being responsible for only 0.025 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, among the lowest in the world.

Global temperatures increased by an average of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years -- with warming in the Himalayas being faster, according to the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma, editing by Paul Casciato)

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