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 (29,029-foot) peak. “It is disgusting, an eyesore,” Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who has summited Everest 18 times, told AFP. “The mountain is carrying tonnes of waste.” As the number of climbers on the mountain has soared — at least 600 people have scaled the world’s highest peak so far this year alone — the problem has worsened.
Meanwhile, the 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.
Efforts have been made. Five years ago Nepal implemente3
d a $4,000 rubbish deposit per team that would be refunded if each climber brought down at least eight kilogrammes (18 pounds) of waste.
On the Tibet side of the Himalayan mountain, they are required to bring down the same amount and are fined $100 per kilogramme if they don’t.
In 2017 climbers in Nepal brought down nearly 25 tonnes of trash and 15 tonnes of human waste — the equivalent of three double-decker buses — according to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC).This season even more was carried down but this is just a fraction of the rubbish dumped each year, with only half of climbers lugging down the required amounts, the SPCC says.
Instead many climbers opt to forfeit the deposit, a drop in the ocean compared to the USD 20,000-USD 100,000 they will have forked out for the experience.
Pemba shrugs that many just don’t care. Compounding the problem, some officials accept small bribes to turn a blind eye, he said.
“There is just not enough monitoring at the high camps to ensure the mountain stays clean,” he said.
The Everest industry has boomed in the last two decades.