Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Green Lakes, North Sikkim: Kangchenjunga 1987 and 2014

The photograph on the left was taken in May 1987 and the one of the right in November 2014 from more or less the same location. The lake is now dry and the red line in both photos show how the angle of the moraine of the glacier has also changed.
In the summer of 1987, I was fortunate to join an Assam Rifles expedition to Kanchenjunga led my Major General Kukreti. I was very keen to reach Green Lakes the base camp of the expedition in the Zemu Valley.

So finally in May 1987, I made it to Green Lakes and spend a few days with the expedition, photographing in and around this fascinating valley.

At that time, I decided that I would one day bring a team of trekkers to the Zemu Valley to see this fabulous dress circle of peaks.

It took me twenty seven years to realise my dream. Finally, on 3rd November 2014, our team of seven trekkers reached the Green Lakes base camp on a sunny afternoon.

I walked up to the spot where I had photographed the reflection of Kanchenjunga in the waters of the lake. To my shock I found that the lake had dried up! Where I had seen an expansive sheet of water was now a rocky mud flat!

This was the first time in my life that I had been actually exposed to retreating glaciers and the effects of climate change first hand.

It was a very sobering experience. Other than a small muddy pool there is no water left at Green Lakes.

It is possible that this pool will also soon dry up and then the last water source will have vanished ending the possibility of camping there.

It will also make it very difficult for future mountaineering expeditions who use Green Lakes as a base camp for climbing different peaks in the valley.

The photograph below taken from a high point above the Green Lakes base camp shows the dried up Green Lake and the muddy pool to the left. The peaks are to the east of Kangchenjunga and the Zemu Glacier is below.

1 comment:

  1. Sad to hear this. Unfortunately we don't realise the impact of climate change. It is for real.



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