The spring climbing season on Mt. Everest is now just a few weeks away, and all across the globe anxious mountaineers are in the final stages of planning and preparation. Ahead of their arrival in Kathmandu, the government of Nepal announced some new requirements this week that are designed to help clean up the environment on the mountain. Those requirements will have a direct impact on all the climbers on Everest’s South Side, with those failing to comply facing strict fines.
According to Nepali officials, all climbers attempting to summit Everest this year will now be required to bring 8 kg (17.6 pounds) of trash off the mountain with them at the end of their expedition. That is the average amount of garbage that a single mountaineer generates during his or her stay on Everest, which typically runs from 6-8 weeks in length. In addition to removing their garbage, mountaineers will also be required to carry down their used oxygen bottles and human waste as well. Failure to comply with these new regulations will result in the forfeiture of a $4000 deposit that must be paid at the start of the expedition.
In reality, these regulations were enacted a few years back, but up until now they have not been strictly enforced. Climbers have been paying their deposit fees for some time, but at the end of the expedition they have almost always gotten the money back. That will not be the case this spring however, as they will now have to show proof of the removal of the trash from Everest Base Camp and other areas further up the slope. The hope is that those who don’t have the required 8 kg of weight will carry some of the extra trash that has accumulated over the past 60 years off the mountain instead.
Everest has become increasingly crowded in recent years, as more and more climbers have attempted to reach the 29,035-foot summit. This has led to a potential environmental disaster on the mountain, with Base Camp turning into a veritable tent city, complete with dump, each spring. Nepal recognizes that the peak is a natural resource that needs to be protected, so there have been significant efforts to improve conditions there over the past few years. As a result, tons of garbage has been removed, thanks to the efforts of a group of Sherpas dedicated to cleaning up the mountain. These regulations will help keep more trash from accumulating, while also helping to remove some of the garbage left behind in the past.