Everest facing mountain of rubbish as climbers leave waste behind | World News

This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. - 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. (Photo by Doma SHERPA / AFP) / TO GO WITH Nepal-Everest-mountaineering-environment-pollution,FEATURE by Paavan Mathema and Annabel Symington        (Photo credit should read DOMA SHERPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mount Everest’s popularity this season has left the Nepalese government with a huge amount of rubbish to clean up, including human waste, campaigners say.

A record number of climbers have taken on the mountain this year, but it has created a huge task for the ethnic Sherpas who work on the government’s clean-up drive.

The wind has also scattered tents and rubbish across South Col, or Camp 42, which at 8,000m, is the highest campsite on the mountain.

Climbers have left behind their empty oxygen cylinders, food packaging and used rope.

Campaigners clearing Camp Two, which is two levels higher than base camp, believe that nearly 8,000kg of human waste has been left behind from the latest season.

Some climbers avoid using the toilets and just use holes in the snow, allowing waste to fall to the land and threaten the communities below the mountain.

People living in the shadow of Everest use melted snow for their water supply, but are now fearful of contamination.

Tonnes of rubbish has been brought back down the mountain

Dawa Steven Sherpa, who led his own clean-up last month and is a leading figure in the fight against garbage said: “The altitude, oxygen levels, dangerously icy and slippery slopes, and bad weather of South Col make it very difficult to bring such big things as tents down.”

Rather than pack up heavy tents and take them with them, climbers suffering to breathe and fighting sickness simply leave them behind, tearing out the company logo so they can avoid detection.

Nepali climbers pose for photographs after collecting waste from the Mount Everest at Namche Bazar, on May 27, 2019, before it is transported to Kathmandu to be recycled. - Nepal government sent a dedicated clean-up team to Mount Everest this season with a target to bring back 10,000 kilograms (10 tonnes) of trash in an ambitious plan to clean the world's highest rubbish dump. (Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Sherpas have been cleaning the world’s highest mountain

Steven says that his trips up the mountain have brought down 20,000kg of rubbish since 2008, and estimates that this season, 30 tents have been left on the mountain, as well as nearly 5,000kg of rubbish.

Bringing it back down could prove fatal, due to the conditions.

This picture taken on May 23, 2010 shows a Nepalese sherpa collecting garbage, left by climbers, at an altitude of 8,000 metres during the Everest clean-up expedition at Mount Everest. A group of 20 Nepalese climbers, including some top summiteers collected 1,800 kilograms of garbage in a high-risk expedition to clean up the world's highest peak. Led by seven-time summiteer Namgyal Sherpa, the team braved thin air and below freezing temperatures to clear around two tonnes of rubbish left behind by mountaineers, that included empty oxygen cylinders and corpses. Since 1953, there have been some 300 deaths on Everest. Many bodies have been brought down, but those above 8,000 metres have generally been left to the elements -- their bodies preserved by the freezing temperatures. The priority of the sherpas had been to clear rubbish just below the summit area, but coordinator Karki said large quantities of refuse was collected from 8,000 meters and below. AFP PHOTO/Namgyal SHERPA (Photo credit should read NAMGYAL SHERPA/AFP/Getty Images)
There are regular clean-up operations on the mountain. File pic.

Ang Doree, head of the Everest Pollution Control Committee said: “The problem is there are no regulations on how to dispose of the human waste. Some climbers use biodegradable bags that have enzymes which decompose human waste but most of them don’t.”

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Ang Tshering, former head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said: “The biggest problem and concern now on Everest is human waste. Hundreds of people are there for weeks who go to open toilets.”

He added that melting conditions at Camp Two create a smell that is sickening to climbers, and the waste will eventually contaminate water sources below and become a health hazard.

Mr Tshering is calling on the government to make the use of biodegradable waste bags mandatory, saying it would spare him and others the unpleasant task of carrying the waste down the slopes.

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