Kathmandu: Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world’s highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.
Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre peak.
“It is disgusting, an eyesore,” Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who has summited Everest 18 times, said. “The mountain is carrying tonnes of waste.”
Meanwhile, melting glaciers caused by global warming are exposing trash that has accumulated on the mountain, since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first successful summit 65 years ago.
And, environmentalists are concerned that the pollution on Everest is also affecting water sources down in the valley.
What is being done to clean up the mess?
- Five years ago, Nepal implemented a $4,000 rubbish deposit per team that would be refunded, if each climber brought down at least eight kgs of waste.
- On the Tibet side of the Himalayan mountain, they are required to bring down the same amount, and are fined $100 per kg if they don’t.
- In 2017, climbers in Nepal brought down nearly 25 ton of trash and 15 ton of human waste, the equivalent of three double-decker buses.
- But, many climbers opt to forfeit the deposit, a drop in the ocean, compared to the $20,000-$100,000 they would have forked out for the experience.
(With inputs from AFP)