Avid hikers dream about climbing Mount Everest. But one video that recently surfaced on Reddit is causing a bigger conversation about the human impact on the tallest mountain in the world.
The video shows a large amount of trash scattered around tents and hikers on Mount Everest with the title “World’s highest garbage dump (Mt. Everest).”
The litter includes discarded oxygen containers, food containers, abandoned tents, and even human feces. The litter is the worst at the altitude camps, where hikers must remain for weeks to allow their bodies to adjust to the changing environment. During every camp period, a single hiker can generate more than 18 pounds of trash — most of which gets left on the mountain.
Disheartening to see the accumulation of garbage at Camp IV on Mt #Everest (8848.86 m). It's high time we address this issue with urgency and commitment. Let's demand stricter regulations, enforcement of clean climbing practices, and effective waste management strategies. Video… pic.twitter.com/KGMlRmUuZk— Everest Today (@EverestToday) May 28, 2023
By leaving this garbage behind, hikers are also putting the health of local communities at risk. Since the toilet facilities end at the base camp, hikers must relieve themselves on the mountain. Excrement can wash down into the mountain’s watershed, posing a significant health risk to the thousands of people that rely on it for drinking water by exposing them to waterborne diseases like cholera and hepatitis A.
The warming climate and melting snow are expected to expose more of the garbage left by hikers in the past few years and increase the flow of contaminated water down the mountain.
An estimated 6,000 people have climbed Mount Everest, with the number of summits increasing annually as more companies offer guided expeditions up the mountain. Unfortunately, the increase in popularity has caused subsequent environmental damage to the mountain and its camps.
To combat the trash, the Nepalese government requires a $4,000 deposit for each hiker to cover the cost of the cleanup. This amount is relatively trivial, considering that people will pay $50,000 to upward of $160,000 just to climb the mountain.
Several Redditors posted their thoughts on the video, speculating about what can be done to help remediate the trash problem on the mountain.
“Weigh each hiker and gear on [ascent] and charge $5,000 deposit. Require return weight to be 10% more weight than [ascent] weight or forfeit deposit. Huge fine if caught scamming with rocks or whatever. Make them clean it up,” one commenter suggested.
Another wrote, “They should force hikers to bring more down then they took up for the next decade.”
“It’s disgusting!” said a third. “Our blatant disregard for nature speaks volumes … I hope we can come together to change our ways.”
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