Save Everest campaign removes 8 tons of waste

The Save Everest Campaign removed 8 tons of garbage this springWay 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.

Legendary Sherpa to attempt 21st summit of Everest

Apa Sherpa will attempt his 21st successful summit of EverestLegendary Himalayan mountain guide Apa Sherpa has returned to his home country of Nepal once again this year, where he’ll be attempting his 21st summit of Mt. Everest. If successful, he will extend his existing record as the man to accomplish that feat most often.

Apa, who now lives in Utah, left his friends and family last Friday, and set off for the Nepali capital of Kathmandu. That city serves as the gateway to the Himalaya, and most mountaineering expeditions to the region begin and end there. Apa says that he knows that climbing the tallest mountain on the planet is risky, but he feels compelled to go back once again in an effort to help his homeland. The mountain guide’s Apa Sherpa Foundation raises funds to improve educational facilities of children living in the Himalaya.

The beginning of April traditionally marks the beginning of the spring climbing season in Nepal, Tibet, and other Himalayan countries. Over the past week, climbers and trekkers have been arriving in Kathmandu and setting out for Everest, Annapurna, and a dozen other high peaks. Climbing these giant mountains is no simple affair, and most will spend six to eight weeks attempting to reach the summit of their choice.

For Apa, this is all old hat. He has been making the journey to Everest every year since the late 1980’s, achieving his first successful summit in 1990. For the past three years, he has been a part of the Eco Everest Team, which is made up of a group of very experienced Sherpas who work together to clean up trash from the mountain. The team has been directly responsible for removing tons of discarded gear, empty oxygen bottles, and other waste products from the slopes of Everest.

If all goes as planned, Apa should be making his record-breaking 21st summit bid sometime in mid-May.