Everest 2014: Nepal Promises To Crack Down On Littering Climbers

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As the 2014 spring climbing season on Everest inches ever closer, we’re getting more news out of Nepal about how the season will unfold, at least in terms of rules and regulations. First we heard that the tiny Himalayan nation was changing the structure of its climbing fees on the world’s tallest mountain, and later there was word of a new military presence in Base Camp. Now comes the news of a major crack down on climbers that leave litter on the mountain, as the government looks to enforce a rule that has been on the books for some time, but has rarely been acted upon.

Government officials have told mountaineering teams that will be heading to Everest in a few weeks that they will now be responsible for returning from Base Camp with at least 18 pounds (8 kg) of garbage, not including their oxygen bottles and human waste. That is the average amount of trash that a climber creates while on the mountain each year. The hope is that as much as 8 tons of garbage will be removed this year, as teams look to pad their weight with garbage that has been left there over the past 60 years. Those failing to comply with this rule will be subject to the loss of their $4000 trash deposit that is part of their climbing fees.

The deposit was instituted a few years back in an effort to encourage the climbing teams to bring their trash downy he mountain with them when they leave. Those climbers were always threatened with the loss of the money if they didn’t pack out their trash, but in reality the rule was rarely enforced. Now, it will be strictly monitored in an effort to help clean up Everest.

This announcement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most mountaineers. The Nepalese government has been focused on improving the environment on Everest for some time now. Likewise, environmentalists will applaud the more strict enforcement of trash rules as well. For more than 60 years, there has been a lot of refuse left behind, and has the number of climbers on the mountain continues to increase, it is likely that it will only get worse unless something is done about it now.

While some of the advance work for the spring climbing season is already underway, the climbers themselves won’t start to arrive in any numbers for another couple of weeks. Things will start to pick up in late March as the streets of Kathmandu become crowded with visitors. Of course, we’ll be following the season closely once again this year, as it promise to be another busy one.

Kraig Becker