Mount Everest: of bodies, garbage and the 'peak' of negligence

The bodies are being identified and add to the deaths reported last week. Glaring questions of safety and care for the ecosystem have emerged, after commercial tourism has led to overcrowded excursions to the summit and a massive trail of garbage.

Everest Garbage

Garbage and waste collected from Everest by Nepal authorities.   -  AFP

Four bodies have been retrieved from Everest and some ten tonnes of garbage plucked from the mountain at the end of this year's climbing season, Nepal authorities said on Monday.

Global warming means melting glaciers are revealing human remains and rubbish, which has gathered over decades of commercial mountaineering and as an increasing number of big-spending climbers who pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

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The four bodies were brought down by helicopter last week according to media reports.

Dandu Raj Ghimire of Nepal's tourism department told AFP they are being identified.

The 14-strong team sent by the government spent about six weeks scouring for litter at base camp and at Camp 4 - nearly 8,000 metres up - scraping together empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear.

“We have reached our target this season... we hope we are able to continue what we have started,” Ghimire said.

 

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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-feet) peak.   -  AFP

Army helicopters and porters transported the refuse down to Namche Bazar, the last major town on the route to Mount Everest.

Authorities said some of it will be sent to Kathmandu for recycling.

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-feet) peak.

“We need to run this program for few more years, especially at the higher camps, to make the mountain clean,” said Pasang Nuru Sherpa, the clean-up team's leader.

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

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Six years ago, Nepal implemented a $4,000 rubbish deposit per team that would be refunded if each climber brought down at least eight kilos (18 pounds) of waste, but only half of the climbers return with their trash.

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

Hundreds of climbers reached the summit this season, and the total could go past last year's record of 807 ascents.