Nepal tackles the problem of cleaning Mount Everest

It is often said that You don’t need a map to get to the Everest base camp, just follow the trash. Nepal is now trying to clean-up Everest peak. The task is Herculean but it has already started and it has started well.

To date, 5,200 men and women have climbed to the peak of the world’s highest mountain, according to Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. Another 775 are planning to test themselves against the 29,029-foot mountain this year.

And all of them have brought — or will bring — many pounds of gear with them to enable their weeks-long ascent to Everest’s summit. But what goes up, does not necessarily come down. Much of it gets left behind.

A total of 3,000 kilogrammes of solid waste has been collected from Mt Everest since April 14 when Nepal launched an ambitious clean-up campaign aimed at bringing back tonnes of trash from the world’s highest peak, which has lately turned into a “garbage dump”.

The 45-day ‘Everest Cleaning Campaign’, led by Solukhumbu district’s Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality began on April 14 with the Nepali new year and aims to collect nearly 10,000 kilogrammes of garbage from Mt Everest.

Dandu Raj Ghimire, Director General of Department of Tourism, informed at a press conference on Sunday that of the 3,000-kilogramme garbage collected so far, 2,000 kilogrammes had been sent to Okhaldhunga while the remaining 1,000 kilogrammes were brought to Kathmandu using Nepali Army helicopters for disposal.

“Our team has now reached the Everest Base Camp for the cleaning campaign. All the necessary things including food, water and shelter have already been arranged there,” Ghimire was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times.

Ghimire said the team will also bring down dead bodies from the Everest if they are able to locate any. This is the first time ever that all stakeholders have come together to clean up the world’s highest peak, Ghimire said.

The D has estimated that at least 500 foreign climbers and over 1,000 climbing support staff will visit higher camps of Mt Everest this season as they prepare to scale the world’s highest peak as well as Mt Lhotse, the fourth tallest mountain, the report said.

There have been attempts in the past to clean up Everest, including a 2014 government-mandated provision making it mandatory for every climber to come down the peak with at least 8-kilogramme of garbage – the amount of trash estimated to be produced by one climber.

“If only climbers brought back their own waste, it would greatly help keep Everest clean. It’s not about the 8-kg waste, but bringing back the waste they produce,” Ghimire was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post.

The month-and-a-half clean-up campaign is supported by a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies.

The campaign will conclude on May 29, the day marked every year to commemorate the first summit of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.


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