Mount Everest Becoming Engulfed By Waste

Mount Everest is arguably the world’s most recognizable mountain. On a yearly basis, there are many who make the trek to Nepal to climb its summit, either as scientific explorers or as adventure travelers. With all of this visitor traffic, however, there is one issue that doesn’t get discussed in the public eye with regards to the numerous trips up Mount Everest. But now, it’s coming to light.

The head of the Nepalese Mountain Association, Ang Tshering, has stated that the single biggest threat to the world’s highest mountain peak is human waste. In remarks made to the press, Tshering has stated that it is something that the government should be more vigilant about. The yearly climbing season, which began this week, lasts until May. In that time, Everest will see more than 700 climbers and their Sherpa guides scale its heights. There is a base camp located 17,300 feet up, and four main camps that are located between that and the summit, located at 29,053 feet. Those climbers and guides use those camps extensively, but they are not equipped with toilets. That leads climbers to dig holes in the snow as makeshift toilets, and leave them there. That practice has led to a vast amount of human waste piling up. The main base camp itself has a staff of porters, cooks and a support team that attends to rubbish disposal. In addition, there are designated toilet tents present. Once filled, the receptacles in these tents are carried further down the mountain for effective disposal. The amount of climbers and their waste has exceeded even these disposal measures and poses a great health hazard and threatens the environment of Mount Everest.

Despite some climbers carrying disposable travel toilet bags, the problem still persists. And there is no fully detailed plan to combat this issue by the government as of yet. But to that end, there have been a few new regulations that have been enacted. Last year, there were new rules that asked for climbers to bring their waste & other trash back down to the base camp with them up to 18 pounds’ worth. Puspa Raj Katuwal, head of the mountaineering department, has stated that there will be stricter monitoring of waste removal this climbing season. If Everest climbers do not comply with all regulations, they are subject to lose their US$4,000 deposit they leave before setting out on their expeditions.