An Artistic Solution to the Everest Garbage Crisis

In the six decades since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay Sherpa completed the first successful summit of Mount Everest, more than 4,000 daring souls have followed in their footsteps. Unfortunately, the high volume of climbing expeditions has taken a toll on the mountain’s pristine landscape over the years. In other words, Mt. Everest is covered with trash – roughly 50 tons or so, by most estimates.

From oxygen bottles and gas canisters to tents and ropes, cleanup crews haul tons of garbage off the mountain every year. Everest climbers are required to pay a $4,000 deposit that is only returned if expedition members can physically prove they packed out all their refuse. But understandably, this regulation is a difficult to enforce.

Enter Da Mind Tree, a local artist collective that took an unconventional approach to the Everest litter crisis. Fifteen members of the group spent one month working in isolation with one and a half tons of garbage collected from the mountain. Then, in late November, the artists unveiled 75 artistic renderings comprised entirely of waste materials.

The pieces include wind chimes made from tent poles, a likeness of Ganeesha built from helicopter wreckage, and a Tibetan Mandala painting that incorporates metal scraps from beer and food containers. A larger piece, planned for installation at the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara, is currently in progress.

“Everest is our crown jewel in the world,” Kripa Rana Shahi, director of art group Da Mind Tree, told Reuters. “We should not take it for granted. The amount of trash there is damaging our pride.”

According to Guardian UK, the works have been priced anywhere between $20 and $2400. Proceeds from their sales will be divided between the artists and the Everest Summiteer’s Association, a group that oversees routine cleanup efforts on the mountain.

By Brad Nehring