Volunteers Remove 3 Tons of Trash From Mount Everest in Two Weeks

Climbers collect garbage near a base camp on Mount Everest.

Climbers collect garbage near a base camp on Mount Everest. Awang Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP

Volunteers have removed more than 3 tons of trash from Mount Everest in just two weeks, part of an ambitious project by the Nepalese government to clean up decades of garbage left by hikers and tourists that has recently been exposed by melting snow and ice, Agence France-Presse reported.

Among the rubbish were tents, climbing equipment, bottles, cans, empty oxygen canisters, and human waste, according to the news agency. Helicopters carried one-third of the garbage to Kathmandu for recycling. The remaining trash was taken to the district of Okhaldhunga for disposal in landfills. The volunteers started their work at Nepal’s Everest busy base camp and are now moving to sites higher up the 29,029-foot mountain, Dandu Raj Ghimire, chief of Nepal’s tourism ministry, told AFP.

“The clean-up campaign will be continued in the coming seasons as well to make the world’s tallest mountain clean,” Ghimire said. “It is our responsibility to keep our mountains clean.” Overall, the initiative aims to remove 10 tons of trash from Mount Everest over a six-week period this year. The 14-person clean-up crew has also discovered the bodies of four climbers, unveiled by melting snow and ice.

Nepal and China have long struggled with ways to keep the mountain clean. More than 4,000 people have summited Everest since 1953, 807 of them last year alone. And thousands more tourists visit the lower elevations of Everest every year. In 2013, Nepal implemented a $4,000 waste deposit per team of hikers, refundable if each climber brought down at least 18 pounds of waste from the mountain. Only half of climbers did so. And in February, China reportedly banned tourists from its base camp in Tibet in an effort to reduce waste on its side of the mountain.