Mumbai, February 8: Climbers who want to scale Mount Everest and its neighbouring peak, Mount Lhotse, will have to use special bags to collect and dispose of their human waste, a local authority has announced. The Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, which covers the Everest region, said the decision was made to address the growing problem of human excrement on the mountains, which has caused environmental and health issues.
“We are getting complaints that human stools are visible on rocks and some climbers are falling sick. This is not acceptable and erodes our image,” Mingma Sherpa, the chairman of the municipality, told the BBC. He said the climbers would have to buy the bags at the base camp and return them after their expedition. The bags would be checked, and those who failed to comply would face penalties. Mount Everest Garbage Video: Abandoned Tents, Trash Piling Up on World's Highest Mountain, Video Invites Angry Reactions.
Mount Everest 'Stinking' With Poop
The bags, which are imported from the US, contain chemicals and powders that solidify the waste and reduce the odour. The municipality said it expected about 400 international climbers and 800 support workers to use the bags in the upcoming climbing season, which starts in March.
Waste Crisis on Mount Everest
According to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, a local NGO, there are about three tonnes of human waste between Camp One and South Col, also known as Camp Four, on the Everest route. The NGO said it had been conducting annual clean-up campaigns, with the help of the Nepali Army, to remove the waste and other garbage from the mountains. Mount Everest: Nepali Sherpa Sets Record with 27th Climb.
However, waste management remains a challenge, especially in the higher-altitude camps where access is difficult. International mountain guide Stephan Keck, who regularly organises Everest expeditions, said South Col had become an “open toilet”.
“There is hardly any ice and snow, so you will see human stools all around,” he said. He welcomed the initiative to use the bags, saying it would help preserve the beauty and dignity of the mountains. “It’s a small effort, but it can make a big difference,” he said.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 08, 2024 08:39 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).