Cleaning up mess climbers have left on Qomolangma

AFP
A clean-up team sent to Mount Qomolangma has collected three tons of garbage in its first two weeks.
AFP

A clean-up team sent to Mount Qomolangma has collected three tons of garbage in its first two weeks.

Decades of commercial mountaineering have left the pristine mountain polluted.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-meter peak.

As this year’s spring climbing season kicked off last month, the Nepal government sent a 14-member team with a target to bring back 10,000 kilograms of trash from Qomolangma within a month and a half.

The team has collected and bundled the three tons of rubbish, including empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear from the base camp and surrounding areas.

“The clean-up campaign team has just started and members have ascended to higher camps to collect more garbage,” said Dandu Raj Ghimire, chief of Nepal’s tourism department.

An army helicopter transported a third of the collected trash to Kathmandu for recycling.

The remaining biodegradable trash was taken to the neighboring Okhaldhunga district to ensure its proper disposal.

Eight members are now cleaning Camp 2 at 6,400 meters and teams of three will take turns to go up to Camp 4 at 7,950 meters, where they will spend 15 days picking up litter.

“The clean-up campaign will be continued in the coming seasons to make the world’s tallest mountain clean,” Ghimire said.

Governments on both sides of the mountain have been battling the human waste and trash left by an increasing number of climbers.

In February, China banned non-climbers from accessing its Qomolangma base camp in Tibet in an attempt to clean up its side of the mountain.

Six years ago, Nepal implemented a US$4,000 rubbish deposit per team that would be refunded if each climber brought down at least 8 kilos of waste.

But only half of the climbers return with their trash.

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