Nepal Begins Huge National Cleanup Campaign to Remove the Tons of Trash Littering Mount Everest

Steven Agar | ClimbingClimbing
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Trash on Everest. Credit:

With the increasing popularity of climbers looking to climb Mount Everest each and every spring climbing season, trash has become a serious problem. Often, climbers leave items like empty oxygen bottles, discarded food cans and torn tents in an attempt to save weight, and in turn conserve energy at the oxygen-starved altitude. But like any trash, it soon piles up, explains

So a national cleanup campaign has been instituted, using the help of Nepal’s major airline (Yeti) and local sherpas and yaks. They have set a target of removing and recycling 200,000 pounds of waste from the area in the next year.

“Trash has become a major problem,” Dalamu Sherpa, the chairwoman of a local women’s group, told The New York Times.

Mount Everest

Collecting the trash is no easy feat, as it involves days of walking by porters using yaks to pack it out from a string of villages leading to base camp. They then transport the trash to Lukla Airport, and Yeti will then fly it to Kahtmandu for recycling. The distance from base camp to Lukla is about 40 miles.

They have also installed 16 waste dumping sites, 46 trash cans and three toilets along those trails. Previously, trash cans and dump sites had been made of plastic sheets, which would tear easily and spread the trash everywhere. The newly-installed sites and bins are made of stone and zinc sheets, which should hold together better. So far, about 24,000 pounds of garbage has been collected since launching the campaign on March 17.

The massive clean-up effort represents a partnership of several agencies in the region, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Nepal chapter; the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee; Blue Waste to Value; the Himalaya Club; and the Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality; and local governments.

Ultimately, it’s upon the backs of sherpas, who bare most of the brunt for the popularity of summiting Mount Everest, that the tallest peak in the world will become a little cleaner.

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