It’s no secret that Mount Everest deaths are in the hundreds, however, a new problem may be keeping climbers away – human waste left behind in the Himalayas.
According to statements made on Tuesday by Ang Tshering, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association, human feces and urine not deaths, are causing problems on the highest peak in the world. Tshering told reporters that around 700 climbers and guides spend two months trying to conquer Mount Everest each climbing season, and what they leave behind is becoming an environmental hazard.
The unsavory issue has not been addressed by Nepal, the official said, adding that those who climb the Himalayas need to dispose of human waste appropriately in order to maintain the pristine nature of the mountain. The comments come as the season is just getting underway this week.
Hundreds of foreign climbers will attempt to reach Mount Everest’s peak this year, and some of them could also find death on the unforgiving mountain. Nepal was forced to cancel last year’s season after a deadly avalanche killed 16 local guides.
Climbers who come to Mount Everest spend weeks acclimating their bodies to the harsh conditions. Four locations, between the base camp at 17,380 feet and the summit at 29,035 feet, have tents, some basic equipment, and supplies, but do not provide toilets. Tourists are forced to do their business anywhere they can, Tshering says.
“Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there,” which has led the current problem, the official adds.
Nepal is now threatening to crack down on offenders by enforcing fines on those who do not comply. A rule, introduced in 2014, for a disposal deposit of $4,000, to be forfeited by any expedition in which a climber fails to bring back 17.6 pounds of trash and human waste, will be strictly enforced this year, a tourism official said, according to Business Insider.
Dawa Steven Sherpa — who has led Eco-Everest clean-up expeditions every year since 2008 — says they have retrieved 33,070 pounds of trash, however, it is unknown how much garbage is left behind. In 2012, Nepali artists depicted 1.7 tons of trash taken from Mount Everest, in an effort to bring awareness to the problem.
It is estimated that about 4,000 climbers have attempted to reach Mount Everest’s summit and 260 have found their death. Most tragedies have been caused by avalanches, falls, injury, or health problems caused by the height of the mountains. Most bodies have never been retrieved.
[Photo by Getty Images]