Kathmandu - A
dedicated clean-up team sent to Mount Everest has collected three
tonnes of garbage in its first two weeks, officials said on Wednesday, in
an ambitious plan to clean the world's highest rubbish dump.
Decades of commercial mountaineering have left the pristine mountain
polluted as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little
attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.
Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters
and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of
the 8 848m peak.
As this year's spring climbing season kicked off last month, the
Nepal government sent a 14-member team with a target to bring back
10 000kg (10 tonnes) of trash from Everest within a month and a
The team has collected and bundled the three tonnes of rubbish,
including empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear from
the base camp and surrounding areas bustling with climbers preparing and
acclimatising to summit Everest.
"The clean-up campaign team has just started and members have
ascended to higher camps to collect more garbage," said Dandu Raj
Ghimire, chief of Nepal's tourism department.
An army helicopter transported a third of the collected trash to
Kathmandu for recycling. The remaining biodegradable trash was taken to
the neighbouring Okhaldhunga district for proper disposal.
Eight members are now cleaning Camp 2 at 6 400m and teams of
three will take turns to go up to Camp 4 at 7 950m, where they
will spend 15 days litter-picking on the snowy slopes.
"The clean-up campaign will be continued in the coming seasons as
well to make the world's tallest mountain clean. It is our
responsibility to keep our mountains clean," Ghimire said.
Governments on both sides of the mountain have been battling the human waste and trash left by an increasing number of climbers.
Six years ago, Nepal implemented a $4 000 rubbish deposit per team
that would be refunded if each climber brought down at least 8kg of waste, but only half of the climbers return with their
In February, China banned non-climbers from accessing its Everest
base camp in Tibet in an attempt to clean up its side of the mountain.
Over 4 000 people have climbed Everest so far, and last year saw a record 807 climbers reach the summit.
Melting glaciers caused by global warming are exposing trash and even
bodies that have accumulated on the mountain since Edmund Hillary and
Tenzing Norgay made the first successful summit 66 years ago.