Nepal: Human Waste Is Wrecking Everest

Climbers are just using holes in the snow
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2015 5:13 AM CST
Climbers descend Khumbu Icefall on their way back to base camp after reaching the summit of Mount Everest.   (AP Photo/ Pasang Geljen Sherpa, FIle)
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(Newser) – The majesty of Mount Everest is being ruined by hundreds of climbers and guides who turn it into the world's highest toilet every climbing season, officials in Nepal warn. The chief of the country's mountaineering association says that at camps between base camp and the summit, climbers "usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there," the AP reports. He says the accumulated waste is not only causing pollution, it has the potential to spread disease and turn the mountain into a health hazard. According to one estimate, climbers leave 26,500 pounds of excrement on Everest every year, Gawker notes.

Last year, before an avalanche killed 16 guides and brought climbing season to an early end, Nepal ordered each climber to bring at least 18 pounds of trash down from the mountain—not including "empty oxygen bottles and human dung." But some have been bringing back more than that: A few years ago, the Atlantic profiled the Eco Everest Expedition, in which dozens of volunteers go up the mountain every year to haul down some of the thousands of pounds of accumulated trash—and the bodies of some climbers who didn't make it back.

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