t's not just revenue that Everest climbers bring to the country, but tonnes of garbage. And with hundreds of climbers aspiring to conquer our pristine mountains every year, the junk only seems to be growing.
Thousands of kilos of oxygen cylinders, plastic wrappers, bottles, tents and mountaineering gear have been carelessly dumped in the mountains, scarring their beauty and causing pollution in ecologically sensitive areas. Even the bodies of those who have perished on the mountains have sometimes been left behind, to the grief of their families and the horror of those who come across them today.
There have been Everest clean-ups before. But a homegrown initiative has taken it even further with the Extreme Everest Expedition (EEE) to clean up the mountain above 8000 metres, in what is called the Death Zone. Over 40 days beginning on 25 April, a team of 20 Sherpas (led by Namgyal Sherpa, coordinated by Chakra Karki) collected upto 1800 kilos of waste. On 29 May, International Mount Everest Day, participants of the Everest Marathon joined in. Despite the punishing run they were undertaking, 30 foreign participants and 70 locals helped carry garbage down to Namche Bajar and delivered it to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee. EEE also evacuated two bodies from above 8000m, which were helicoptered off the mountain.
EEE is conducting an awareness campaign to deter future climbers from littering, and will be heading for the lofty heights of Everest next spring, too. The expedition was sponsored by Nepal Investment Bank, Hulas Steel Industries, The Himalayan Times, the Nepal Medical Association, Ace Development Bank, Hotel Association of Nepal, and Surya Nepal. A feature documentary chronicling EEE's efforts will be screened in Jai Nepal in December.