Should Everest Be Closed?

The Guardian has posted an intriguing article asking, “Should Everest Be Closed?” It’s a debate that’s been raging for some time. The highest mountain on the planet is filling up with trash of all kinds, left behind by the thousands of climbers and trekkers that scramble up and down its slopes every year.

There is a movement afoot to temporarily limit or completely shut off, access the mountain to avoid an ecological disaster. Those arguing against such a policy feel that it would damage Nepal’s economy and take away the Sherpa guide’s ability to earn a living. The article does a good job of informing the reader on the gist of the argument, while providing some history and insight into the current political climate in Nepal.

Personally, I think it’s despicable the amount of trash that has accumulated on Everest. There have been ongoing efforts to clean up the mountain, but it’s a long, arduous, and expensive task. I would be against completely shutting down access to the mountain, but I wouldn’t be opposed to cutting back on the climbing permits issued each year.

That would limit the number of people on the mountain, which may address the overcrowding issues that have arisen over the past decade or so. It would also help limit the amount of garbage left there, but further efforts should be made to ensure that climbing teams are packing their trash out.

I know that’s not easy when some of that trash consists of depleted oxygen bottles at 8000 meters plus, but it’s a start. Perhaps extra Sherpas should be hired by the teams with the expressed job of bringing down some of the trash from Camp 4. If you’re going to be on the mountain, you should be responsible for respecting its environment and ensuring that it is a safe and clean place for others.

Kraig Becker

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