With record 381 permits issued this year to climbers, Nepal government has been asked to put in place some rules on waste management on the peak.

With 13 tonnes garbage and 8000 kgs of human waste Mt Everest is an open toilet Nirmal Purja
news Environment Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 15:06

Garbage has reached the world’s tallest peak – government crew at the Mount Everest have been grappling with cleaning up around 13 tonnes of garbage and around 8,000 kilograms of human excreta as this year’s climbing season concluded. Nepal authorities have reportedly removed 11 tonnes of waste and four dead bodies during a two-month long cleanliness drive from the mountain and below the used by the climbers – this in the middle of severe temperatures and high winds.  

The waste includes oxygen cylinders, tents that have been left behind, plastic bottles, kitchen waste, cans, ropes, and other climbing equipment that exhausted climbers have found too hard to carry back down. It is not known what the total amount of waste is present as it is visible only when the snow melts. 

According to a report in The Associated Press, around 30 tents have been left behind by climbers. The tents have been blown around by the wind, some have gotten embedded in ice and snow and bringing the tents down for the sherpas involved in cleaning work is a tough task, since a misstep at that altitude can prove to be fatal.  

A more pressing matter is the human waste that is left behind by the climbers. According to the AP report, many climbers prefer to dig a hole in the snow to dispose of their waste and then covering up with snow, instead of using makeshift toilets. The waste threatens to contaminate not only the surroundings and the melting ice that will flow down the slopes but also contaminate the groundwater underneath. People living at the Everest Base Camps use melted snow as drinking water and the waste is a health hazard for them.  

Hundreds of climbers flock each year to Nepal to scale the Himalayan peaks during the spring season that begins around March and ends in June. There are currently no regulations on how to handle human waste on Mount Everest. Ang Dorjee, who heads the independent Everest Pollution Control Committee, told Associated Press that it is time that the Nepal government institute some rules with regards to climbers and the material they carry on their ascend.

The Nepal government has also been asked to put in place some rules as well as limitations on the number of permits granted every year for climbers. According to PTI, Nepal issued a record 381 permits costing USD 11,000 each for the current spring climbing season. It opened the climbing route to the world's highest peak on May 14. 

Last month, a photograph of a ‘traffic jam’ of climbers at Mount Everest went viral as there was a record-breaking summit on May 22 with at least 220 climbers reaching the peak. Many exhausted climbers were often forced to wait for several hours for their turn to ascend or descend on a single rope, increasing risks of exhaustion, frostbite or altitude sickness. Many climbers also ran out of oxygen. A total of 16 climbers have died on Mount Everest this season.

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