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Mt. Everest Cleans Up a Dirty Little Secret

You'd think that a holy spot 30,000 feet in the air would be mess-free — but sadly garbage isn't afraid of heights. Veteran Mt. Everest expedition leader Dawa Steven Sherpa last year was dismayed (and grossed out) to spot human waste on the top of what is considered a holy shrine. He's just announced his eco-friendly solution: the Clean Mountain Can. It is basically a portable, watertight garbage can that affixes to backpacks, making it possible to bring garbage back down the peak.

Since the mountain’s most famous ascension in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay, Everest has been climbed more than 3,000 times accumulating an estimated 10 tons of garbage. Among the heap? Ropes, oxygen bottles and, well, let’s just say there are no toilets. “Sherpas go up the mountain and they take a big load, and when they drop their load, they come down empty.” That's the perfect time for a little litter collection. The plan pays climbers a buck per kilo of crap brought down and not left junking up the landscape. A fund has been established to pay climbers to bring waste back down from their trip.

Is this just the kind of innovation we need to clean up our act?


Join The Conversation
remedios remedios 9 years
Good point syako. I hadn't thought about the cost.
syako syako 9 years
it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to climb everest and there's only a two or so week period where you can actually summit (weather and conditions are only good enough for a short time). So the hippie type climbers probably couldn't afford this. ;) Plus most of the people who climb are executives that are out to prove something and usually this is at the risk of people like the sherpas who risk their lives to get the supplies and ropes and everything set up for these rich and ungrateful/spoiled people. (this is from what I've read, seen on tv shows, etc, not personal experience since I've never been to Nepal, sadly)
OMGoshDramaQueen OMGoshDramaQueen 9 years
remedios remedios 9 years
I've heard this before, but I always found it weird. I picture climbers as nature hippy types that love the earth, recycle, and all that other good stuff, not the littering kind.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I wonder how big those Sherpa loads were? I hear they can eat quite a lot.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Oh I forgot to mention, the reason George Mallory is so important is because it was thought he (and Andrew Irvine) summited Everest almost 30 years before the first confirmed ascent.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Tiabia-they leave the remains where they fall. This often times is actually along the trails and climbing areas. They remain frozen, and are essentially preserved for decades. One preserved body is George Mallory, who died on the mountain in 1924. The majority of his body is intact because of the extreme temperature of the mountain. Removal of the bodies is extremely dangerous for people involved, since it's hard enough to get yourself down the mountain...let alone a cumbersome, frozen body. It would take at least 6 sherpas to bring someone down the mountain. The sherpas are also very superstitious, and pretty much refuse to go near a dead body. It would be very improper to demand the sherpas (who do the majority of the man-power anyway) remove a body from the mountain. And simply, sometimes a climber requests that they be left where they died.
SussLW SussLW 9 years
The Discovery Channel has a great reality show of people climing Mt. Everest and shows these climbers as they drop their spent oxygen tanks and keep going. This litter removal plan is a good start.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
This has been a problem for years. It is nice to see them actually start to do something about it. I thought you were supposed to at least bury your poo not just let freeze on the snow in this case. Climbers should be ashamed.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I just had a vivid picture of some rich B*stard squating on the top of everest depositing a nice steamy pile of "litter"
silly3 silly3 9 years
Everest is a popular climb, and trash, including waste, has reportedly been a problem for some time. This sounds like a great way to clean up! Tiabia - If a climber dies from falling, remains are generally not recovered because they simply can't be a) physically located or b) accessed. I haven't read about climbers who die from oxygen deprivation or exposure, but hopefully there is a way to bring their bodies home to loved ones.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
It's Friday, so please forgive me for this but I could stop laughing when I read the part about the Sherpas and their loads. But seriously, I never would have thought that there would be so much garbage. I'd think that climbers would be more intuned with nature and more eco-conscious. Good for them for addressing the problem though!
tiabia tiabia 9 years
Sounds like a great idea. -but I would also love to know what becomes of the human remains (and not in the biological sense) that rest on Mountain Everest?
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
weird but interesting
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Litter on Mt. Everest?! That's just depressing.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Great idea! good for them!
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