In April of 2019, a team of scientific researchers and documentarians arrived at Mount Everest’s southern basecamp in Nepal to measure the impacts of climate change and human activity on the world’s tallest mountain. The pollution team, led by University of Maine Assistant Professor Kimberley Miner, lugged heavy scientific equipment up the most popular ascent route. At each stop, Maine’s team took samples of snow, the same snow climbers were boiling and drinking, the same snow that melted each summer and provided water for people living in the valleys below. They trekked from Khumbu Glacier to Base Camp, on to Camps I and II, and then to Everest Balcony. At 26,000 feet (8,000 meters) elevation, the Balcony marks the beginning of what is called the “death zone,” for the obvious reason.
When the scientists arrived, the mountain was unusually hot and crowded. Hundreds of climbers were hoping to make the