Man Swims Across Everest Lake (1Km) for Climate Change Action

Published on June 17th, 2010 | by

There are a lot of ways to try to increase awareness of climate change and action to stop it, but I imagine not many are as noteworthy as this one.

A man given the title “human polar bear” recently swam one kilometer across a lake on Mount Everest for this purpose.

Image Credit: Business Innovation Factory Lewis Gordon Pugh (human polar bear)
Lewis Gordon Pugh (human polar bear)

The man, Lewis Gordon Pugh, “has become the first person to accomplish a long distance swim on the world’s highest mountain, taking on extremely low temperatures in only a pair of Speedos,” Sideways News reports.

Mr. Pugh is 40 years old. Prior to this, he had also swum in Antarctica and across the North Pole in order to bring more people’s attention to melting sea ice.

In this challenge, he focused on raising awareness around the area’s diminishing water supply due to the melting Himalayan glaciers.

In this swim, water temperatures were as low as 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) and he was swimming at a height of 5,300 meters (approx. 17,388 feet).

The lake he swam across was Pumori Lake near the Khumbu Glacier. It took him 22 minutes to complete the swim. But that 22 minutes was no easy swim. In fact, Pugh was concerned he couldn’t complete this one.

Pugh said:

It’s one of the hardest swims I’ve ever undertaken. When I swam in Antarctica and across the North Pole I swam with speed and aggression but on Mount Everest you can’t use the same tactics. Because of the altitude you need to swim very slowly and deliberately.

Swimming 20 metres at full speed in the test swim, I felt I was going to drown. I was gasping for air and if I had swum any faster I would have gone under. I was deeply concerned that I wouldn’t make 1km and I’m delighted that I’ve finally achieved it.

I learned that I had to respect this unique terrain and swim as slowly as possible – I had to swim breast stroke so that I could breathe more efficiently. I had to find a delicate balance between going too fast, in which case I might drown due to hyperventilation, and going too slowly (and risk dying of hypothermia).

Climate change is a critical issue that is likely to have a dramatic effect on water supplies around the world. We should all do something (but maybe not try swimming across a lake on Mount Everest) to help change course.


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1 comment

  • I had to look this up for a activity in my computers class. We we’re required to search for the highest lake that ever was swam. This was quite intresting when i did find it, maybe just because i can barely swim across hume lake without dying of exhaustion(sp?). He seemed to take in his surroundings well in figuring out how you must use different tactics to swim, and of course he did something awesome. Props to him :3 🙂

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