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Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, has also become the world’s highest landfill. Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent in 1953, the mountain has become a tourist attraction for climbers, and over the years they have left their garbage behind as they try to scale the summit only to be turned back by fatigue and lack of oxygen. With the snow on the mountain starting to melt as a consequence of global warming, the long-buried trash has resurfaced and is causing problems for new and returning climbers.
In April, a group of twenty Nepali climbers led by experienced mountaineer Namgyal Sherpa attempted to brave Everest’s “death zone”, the area of the mountain more than 8,000 meters above sea level where the air is thin and the terrain is perilous, to clean up the disused gear and litter left behind by decades of failed expeditions. The project, named the “Extreme Everest Expedition”, is aimed at raising awareness of the effects of global climate change and the need to keep Nepal and its most famous attraction unpolluted.
The program was launched on April 25 and is expected to continue through June 4. Sherpa, who has climbed Everest seven times, says that he hopes to bring down at least 2,000 kilograms of garbage from the mountain as well as the bodies of five climbers, including that of a Swiss climber who died trying to climb to the top in 2008.
Follow progress at the Extreme Everest Expedition blog.
Photo by iStockPhoto/fotoVoyager