Cleaning up after Everest expeditioners

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 8-14, 1998
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Cleaning up after Everest expeditioners
Question: What effects did humans have on Mount Everest?

Beth Harvey
Chaplin, CT

Much-needed clean-up efforts
are underway on Everest

Adventure Adviser: Unfortunately, quite a few. There is a photograph in a previous issue of Outside of hundreds of oxygen bottles littering a camp on the mountain.

It is estimated that 50 tons of garbage litters the mountain, trash that includes tin cans, gum wrappers, discarded clothing, human waste, and even dead folks who have had no choice but to remain where they died, in an eternal deep freeze.

You could also count the effect climbers have had on the Nepali culture. Sure, lugging a white guy's gear is better money than your average subsistence existence, but now people have to routinely risk their lives carrying heavy loads in order to earn a buck.

On a more positive note, as more people become aware of the perils on the mountain, more people are taking steps to try to clean it up. For example, a woman named Angela Hawse has organized an expedition called "Everest Challenge '98: Environmental Restoration Project." Through Prescott College in Arizona, Hawse has designed a program that will pay Sherpas to remove oxygen bottles and garbage from the high camps and slopes on the South Col route.

From there, Prescott College students will sort, transport, and properly dispose of the trash to sites at Kathmandu or the United States. Independent research projects by Prescott College students will also take place. For more information on the project call Tom Whittaker at 520-771-8965.

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