Environmental activist Wong Wai-kin has become the first Hongkonger to climb Mount Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world.

Wong, 47, reached the 8,516-metre high peak on Tuesday at around 7.45am and unfurled a yellow banner reading “Urgent! Save our climate!” emblazoned with a Greenpeace logo. The activist arrived in Thangnak on April 6 and has spent the past seven weeks acclimating to the high altitude, which included climbing Mera Peak at 6,476 metres.

Wong Wai-king
Wong Wai-kin banner for Greenpeace at the top of Mount Lhotse in Nepal. Photo: Greenpeace/Twitter.

Wong said his fingers suffered from frostbite during the ascent: “Although it was sunny at the mountain top, it was very cold up there,” he said.

Lhotse rises 8,516 metres above sea level, dwarfed by its neighbouring giant Mount Everest which – at 8,848 metres above sea level – is the tallest mountain the world.

Wong Wai-king
Wong Wai-kin. Photo: Greenpeace.

Wong said he observed a state of climate emergency in action along his ascent, including heavy river currents caused by melted glaciers, as well as frequent and intense snow slides. He added that the lake at Kala Patthar was frozen when he arrived on May 3, which was abnormal in this season.

Greenpeace added that Wong saw messages scrawled onto rocks along the way and urged climbers to respect nature by refraining from writing on them.

At 48-years-old, Wong became the ninth Hongkonger to scale Mount Everest alongside two others last May. Nearly 300 people have died attempting to climb its perilous slopes.

Mountain glaciers are a vital source of water for over 200 million people. But these ice fields have retreated at unprecedented rates due to global heating, an unintended effect of modern energy use. According to a study released in January, the world could lose two-thirds of its glaciers if carbon emissions are not rapidly reduced.

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Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.