Way back at the beginning of April we told you about Nepal’s Save Mt. Everest campaign, a project sponsored by that nation’s tourism board that hoped to clean up the world’s tallest mountain, and the region that surrounds it. Now, two months later, the group has wrapped up their activity, at least for now, and reports that they have removed eight tons of garbage this spring alone.
In all, there were 29 Sherpas that were working together on the project, removing all manner of waste products from Everest. Much of the trash that they brought down consisted of pipes, old ropes, plastic bottles, and spent oxygen bottles. Most of the trash is left behind by the climbers and trekkers who visit the region. For instance, the oxygen bottles are used by climbers going to the summit, who require supplemental oxygen to help them complete their climb. Those bottles often discarded and left behind once they are emptied.
It is estimated that 20 tons of garbage still remains on the mountain, which leaves an awful lot to remove by the June, 2012 deadline that the Save Everest campaign has set as their goal. But the organization is not alone in their efforts, as the Eco Everest team, consisting of some of the most well known Sherpa guides on Everest, has also been removing trash from the Himalayan peak since 2008. Together, the two teams hope to preserve the mountain, which is considered a sacred place in Nepal.
The Nepali government has also done its part to ensure that Everest stays clean for future mountaineers as well. Over the past few years, the country has been doing a better job of enforcing garbage laws that have been in place since 1992, and all climbing teams are now required to carry all of their waste back out of the Khumbu Valley, where it can be recycled or disposed of properly. Failure to do so results in some hefty fines.
Having been to Everest, I’m glad to hear that these efforts are yielding positive results. It is a special, beautiful place, and one that definitely deserves to be protected.