Everest’s highest camp littered with frozen rubbish, cleanup expected to take years

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The highest camp on the world’s highest mountain The place is littered with rubbish and it will take years to clean up.According to Sherpa, who led a team that cleared trash and excavated bodies that had been frozen for years near the summit of Everest,

of Nepal Government-funded teams of soldiers and Sherpas removed 11 tons (24,000 pounds) of trash, four bodies, and one skeleton from Everest during this year’s climbing season.

Ang Babu Sherpa, leader of the Sherpa expedition, said there could still be 40 to 50 tons (88,000 to 110,000 pounds) of trash remaining at the South Col, the climbers’ final campsite before attempting the summit.

“The rubbish left there consisted mostly of old tents, some food packaging, gas cartridges, oxygen cylinders, tent packs and ropes used for climbing and tying the tents together,” he said, adding that the rubbish was frozen in layers at the South Col camp, 8,000 meters (26,400 feet) above sea level.

Since then, The peak was first conquered in 1953.Thousands of climbers have reached the summit, many of whom have left more than just footprints behind.

In recent years, government regulations requiring climbers to pick up their trash or forfeit their deposits and increased environmental awareness among climbers have significantly reduced the amount of trash left behind, but that was not the case a few decades ago.

“Most of the rubbish is from previous expeditions,” Ann Babb said.

The team’s Sherpas collected trash and bodies at higher altitudes, while the soldiers operated in the lower elevations and base camp areas for several weeks during the popular spring climbing season when weather conditions are more favorable.

Anne Babb said the weather was a major challenge for the work in the South Col area, where oxygen levels were around a third of normal, winds could quickly turn into blizzards and temperatures could drop rapidly.

“We had to wait for good weather for the sun to melt the ice. But it’s impossible to wait for a long time in this position and in this situation,” he said. “With very low oxygen levels it’s difficult to stay for a long time.”

Digging out the trash is also a tough task as the trash is frozen in the ice and it is not easy to break the blocks.

It took two days to dig out one body, found frozen standing deep in the ice near the South Col, he said. The weather worsened along the way, forcing the team to retreat to a lower campsite, but they resumed work when the weather cleared.

The other body was found much higher, at 8,400 metres (27,720 feet) above sea level, and took 18 hours to drag to Camp 2, where it was retrieved by helicopter.

The body was airlifted to Tribhuvan University Hospital in Kathmandu for identification.

Of the 11 tonnes of trash removed, 3 tonnes that could be decomposed were transported to a village near the base of Everest, while the remaining 8 tonnes were transported by porters and yaks, then by truck to Kathmandu, where it was sorted for recycling at a facility run by Agni Ventures, an organisation that manages recyclable waste.

“The oldest waste we received dates back to 1957 and was rechargeable batteries for flashlights,” said Sushil Khadga of the agency.

Why do hikers leave trash behind?

“At that high altitude Life is very difficult and there is very little oxygen“So climbers and their supporters are more focused on saving themselves,” Khadga said.


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