The Amount of Garbage Littered on K2 is Obscene

Brent Thomas | ClimbingClimbing | Industry NewsIndustry News
Current trash on K2. Credit: Nimsdai Foundation

K2 has been popular this climbing season. That may be an understatement as a record number of climbers have been attempting to summit the mountain. To put it in perspective, last month there was a record 145 climbers who summited in just one day. That is double the amount that usually summits in an entire season. Before this year, only about 300 people had summited the mountain—ever.

Now it appears we are dealing with the aftermath of it all as a horrific scene of trash is now blanketing the mountain. Camp two, located at 21,980 feet, has flattened and shredded tents, ropes, pickets, and oxygen canisters. Also reported being left behind is human waste, which doesn’t decompose at altitude. The smell is rancid and creates a major health risk, as climbers need to melt snow for drinking water.

mountain garbage
Piles of garbage. Credit: Nimsdai Foundation

K2 is the second highest peak in the world, but also considered one of the most technical to climb, even harder than Mount Everest. This could be part of the problem. For every four climbers attempting to reach the summit, one dies. The dangerous nature of the mountain means that if climbers are sick or struggling, they need to get down the mountain as soon as possible. If that means leaving their gear behind, then so be it.

The garbage is especially troubling if it is not cleaned up. Once the rubbish is subjected to a season of freeze-thaw cycles it becomes embedded into the ice and extremely difficult to chop out and remove.

Credit: Nimsdai Foundation

The culture of mountain climbing needs to change to be more sustainable. In 2019, cleanup crews hauled approximately 24,000 pounds of trash off of Mount Everest. Money is currently being raised for Sherpa’s to deep clean K2. However, knowing that a clean-up crew is an option just encourages more bad behavior. More measures need to be put in place to keep the mountains beautiful. Either that or no one will want to climb these majestic peaks anymore.

We go to the mountains to enjoy the pure nature and solitude they provide. We all need to do our part to keep these areas pristine. Remember, pack it in, pack it out.

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2 thoughts on “The Amount of Garbage Littered on K2 is Obscene

  1. Looks just like any corner of Oakland or the industrial area near hunters point SF. So the poor & the rich have something in common. They both trash the place, it’s just that the rich do it on the down low where they think nobody will see it.

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