Expedition brings down 11 tons of Mt Everest trash


At a time when traffic jam on Mt Everest is grabbing headlines around the world, a clean-up campaign on the world’s highest mountain is not getting as much publicity.

The 12-member garbage retrieval expedition has just come down to Namche Bazar after spending one month on Mt Everest and brought down nearly 11 tons of garbage as well as four bodies of dead climbers that had emerged from the thawing ice.

“We found some of the camps in a pretty bad state,” said Sangye Sherpa, an expedition member. “They were littered with abandoned tents, gas and oxygen cylinders, packaged food and pieces of clothing.”

Expedition members said the trash was worse than usual because there has been no clean up since the 2015 earthquake and the 2014 avalanche on the Ice Fall. Many expeditions at higher camps after both disasters had to make a quick descent and abandon their climbs, leaving most of their gear behind.

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Expedition leader Pasang Sherpa said there were still some bodies of climbers on the mountains, with at least eight more fatalities added this year.

He said: “The hardest part of the expedition was at Camp II to dig out the bodies from the ice, they were mostly intact with their eyes open, so it was very difficult.”

The expedition went up to South Col with his team picking up expedition detritus, even as about 1,000 climbers from around the world and their high altitude guides were headed up to climb the mountain. Sometimes the expedition had to pick up after expeditions and bring down trash that was not even a day old.

Expedition members said the number of expeditions this year means that there will be even more garbage next year because most expeditions do not abide by guidelines to bring down all their waste from the mountain. Of the trash that is now stacked up at the Nepal Army Base in Namche, 4 tons have already be taken down to Lukla and on to Kathmandu to be recycled by the group, Blue Waste to Value.

The expedition was jointly organised and funded by the Nepal Government, Safa Himal Campaign of the Nepal Army, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal Tourism Board, Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee and the Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality.

“There is still a lot of garbage up there, and it will take another 3-4 years of continuous cleanup to bring down everything and ensure that expeditions do not leave anything up there,” said Sangye Sherpa. “We have made a start to clean up, and I think this will send a good message across the world.”

Photos: Bharat Bandhu Thapa

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