Everest’s mountain of trash
Over the past 65 years, Mount Everest has been transformed from one of the world’s most pristine environments to a vertical garbage dump littered with discarded tents, climbing equipment, empty oxygen canisters, and human waste. “It is disgusting, an eyesore,” Pemba Dorje, a Nepalese Sherpa who has summited Everest 18 times, tells Agence France-Presse. Since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first successful summit in 1953, more than 4,000 people have scaled the 29,029-foot peak—including at least 600 so far this year. Many of those climbers abandon gear along the way, and the high-altitude trash problem is being made worse by the fact that climate change is causing glaciers to melt, exposing long-frozen rubbish. Nepal now demands a $4,000 trash deposit per climbing team, which is only refunded if each climber brings down at least 18 pounds of waste from Everest. Climbers in Nepal last year carried 28 tons of garbage and 17 tons of human waste off the mountain—the equivalent of three double-decker buses—but researchers say this is only a fraction of the trash dumped on Everest each year.