Mount Everest trash is an ongoing problem that threatens the mountain’s natural beauty and the environment. A new checkpoint is expected to reduce garbage left behind on the world’s tallest mountain. Littered with discarded oxygen tanks, tents, climbing equipment, and food wrappers, Everest has been nicknamed “the world’s highest garbage dump.”
Nepali officials hope the checkpoint will reduce or eliminate the problem. Beginning this season, the mountaineering department of Nepal’s Tourism Ministry will install a checkpoint at base camp. Upon descent, each climber will be required to prove that they removed their trash from the mountain.
The department estimates each climber leaves an average of 18 pounds of garbage behind. Between 2008 and 2013, the Eco Everest Expedition has removed 13 tons of trash from Mount Everest. More than two tons were classified as “bio-hazard waste,” which includes human excrement and frozen corpses.
As reported by This Week, an estimated 10 tons of trash remain on the mountain. Unfortunately, a majority of the litter is buried under thick layers or ice and snow.
In general, littering is considered a disgusting habit. However, for climbers, it could be a matter of life or death. Climbing Mount Everest is incredibly strenuous, even for the most experienced climbers. Exhausted climbers often drop their trash to reduce the weight of their packs. As energy is vital to survival, the decision is often made as a matter of self-preservation.
Despite the reasoning, Mount Everest trash is obviously getting out of hand. Yahoo News reports that the volume of climbers is expected to increase, as fees will be reduced to $11,000 per individual. The previous fee was $25,000. Although the decrease will certainly increase tourism, it will likely increase the litter as well.
To combat the expected increase in trash, the Nepali government will install the checkpoint at base camp. Each climber is expected to bring at least 18 pounds of trash back from their climb. Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti, with the Tourism Ministry, clarified climbers are not expected to collect other people’s trash. They are simply expected to “bring back what they took up.”
Although the ministry previously required each climber to pay a $4,000 litter deposit, the penalty was difficult to impose. The checkpoint is expected to assist officials in identifying which climbers have left trash behind.
Environmentalists have suggested closing the mountain to climbers, to allow “the mountain to rest and recover.” However, Nepal authorities are trying to avoid harsh restrictions. The new checkpoint may not eliminate Mount Everest trash, but it is a good starting point.
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