Climbing Mount Everest is becoming less predictable and possibly more dangerous, as climate change brings warmer temperatures, scientists have warned.
Nepal was left reeling when a sudden ice avalanche slammed down onto a group of Sherpa guides on Friday and killed 16 in the deadliest single disaster on Everest.
While it is impossible to link any single event to long-term changes in the global climate, scientists say the future will likely hold more such dangers in high-altitude regions, Fox News reported.
There is nothing to prove the icefall was behaving unusually on Friday. But scientists say mountaineers should assume that everything is now in flux.
What makes the situation so risky, scientists say, is the uncertainty itself.
While scientists are sure things are changing, they're not entirely sure how. Much of the evidence is anecdotal, and there isn't enough data or decades of scientific observation to draw solid conclusions.
Rigorous glacier studies have only begun in the Himalayas in the last decade, and no one is studying snow patterns on a large scale, Nepalese glaciologist Rijan Bhakta Kayastha at Kathmandu University said.
Meanwhile, as global temperatures have gone up 0.75 degrees C (1.4 degrees F) in the last century, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, studies show the Himalayas warming at a rate up to three times as high.