The southern peak was first measured in 1880, when it stood at 2,123 meters. Its height has varied from year to year, growing in colder years and shrinking in warmer ones. But since 1995, it has shrunk almost a meter a year, with few exceptions, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.
Located in far northern Sweden, Kebnekaise is a popular tourist destination. Last year, about 10,000 people reached the summit of the southern peak, a trip that usually takes 10 to 15 hours. But once the northern peak officially becomes the highest mountain, that could change as climbers seek to summit the new highest peak.
“It could have that effect, yes,” said Stefan Kallstrom, head of the Swedish Mountain Rescue Service. “From a safety aspect, the north peak is much harder to climb than the south. It has a different topography.”
Anders Bergwall, an Arctic guide and alpine rescue worker who covers the Kebnekaise area, also said he expected more people to set their sights on the north summit.
“I think everybody wants to go to the highest point, of course,” he said of the south peak. “It’s super beautiful, but they will want to go another 700 meters to go to the highest point.”
There has been a dramatic increase in visitors to Kebnekaise in recent years, he said, adding, “It’s popular even among people without a mountaineering background.”
The trek to the north peak is more dangerous. It requires climbing to the southern tip, then a harrowing, 700-meter journey “along a cold and steep snow and ice ridge,” Mr. Bergwall said.
Orignially published in NYT.