Where do you think the human waste and trash left behind by the nearly 700 climbers and porters who attempt Mt Everest each year go? There is no toilet on the roof the world. Nor does the summit have any waste management facility for the non-biodegradable junks that accompany modern-day mankind.
The answer is not hard to guess. To the utter dismay of environmentalists around the world, Mt Everest has effectively become the highest junkyard of the planet as poo, urine and junks remain frozen on the top of the world.
Add to the list of pollutants the 100 plus corpses of brave mountaineers who never made it down!
It is this trail of rubbish that led the president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, Frits Vrijlandt, to conclude, “It’s not a trip to Disneyland.”
Last month, Nepal Mountaineering Association’s Ang Tshering Sherpa alerted the world about the rubbish and human waste problem on Mt Everest. It was followed by prolific ‘poo’ stories in the international media.
But now at least 4,000 kilogram of the pollutant is due to be removed soon when a 34 member strong team of Indian army personnel answers Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swatchha Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission). The Indian Army team will be climbing the peak to commemorate the first Inidan ascent by Major A.S. Cheema. The group is expected to summit the peak mid-May.
The team is already in Nepal and would be training and acclimatising before it attempts Mt Evverest.
Major Ranveer Singh Jamval, who is a celebrated mountaineer in India with two successful ascents of the world’s highest mountain, is heading the clean-up mission.
“Sadly, Mount Everest is now also called the world’s highest junkyard. Our aim is to carry forward our prime minister’s dream of cleanliness everywhere, including at the top of the world. We will target the mountaineering waste from Camp 1 (19,695 feet) to the summit (29,028 feet). There are old cylinders, tents, tins, packets, equipment and other mountaineering waste. Apart from our own haversacks weighing 10 kg each, we intend to bring in another 10 kg each on the trip,” Mail Today quoted Major Jamval on April 1.
“The army mountaineers aim to give back to Sagarmatha a measure of reverence that she merits and contribute to restoring the ecological balance of the route,” another Indian Army personnel said to Mail Today.
The environmental disaster unfolding at Mt Everest is the result of the tens of thousands of climbers and guides who spend nearly two months on its slopes each year. Although some of them do carry portable toilet packs, it is not widely practiced leading to a pile up of faeces and urine on the top of the world. There are four camps between the base camp at 5,300m (17,380ft) and the actual peak which is at 8,850 metres (29,035ft) but these camps do not have toilet facilities.
The Nepali government never had any plans to manage the effects of the human waste on the pristine environment but now, given the international headlines the poo problem has generated, it may be forced to come up with some smart strategies. However, it started a new rule since last year requiring each climber to bring down to the base camp at least 8 kilograms of trash. It is estimated an average climber discards about that much waste as he or she attempts the summit. All climbing teams must leave a $4,000 deposit that they lose if they don’t comply with this regulation.