It was a sense of shame that prodded Japanese climber Ken Noguchi to take up the task of cleaning Everest. He was struck when western climbers pointed out that although Japan's economy was robust, its environmental ethics were pretty terrible. "When I climbed Everest in 1999, I realised a large amount of garbage had been left by Japanese, Korean and Asian expeditions," says Noguchi, who came back with a clean-up expedition in 2000, and also this year. The 2001 Noguchi/Asia Qomolongma Cleanup Expedition brought down 1,600 kg of garbage from Tibet. But Noguchi is just not done yet. Next year, he hopes to collect more than 4,000 kg of garbage from the Nepali side of the mountain.
It isn't only foreigners making the effort to clean up the mountain. Nepali Sherpas, paid by the Nepal Mountaineering Association, the Tourism Ministry and the Tourism Board, brought down more than 4,000 kgs from the mountain slopes this spring.