About 700 mountaineers and guides attempt to scale Mt Everest every year. Recent studies by Nepal’s Mountaineering Association show that human waste left by climbers on Mt Everest is becoming a health hazard and source of pollution on the world’s highest peak.
Scaling the peak takes anywhere from six to nine weeks. Mountaineers relieve themselves in the open during their climb, burying their “deposits” in snow piles. This accumulated human waste has now become quite a headache for trekkers and Sherpas.
But wait. It gets worse. Jeffrey S. Kargel, a geologist and planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, told ThinkProgress that climate change is going to complicate the situation “to the extent that some of this (human waste) is buried in snow, entombed in snow, and entombed in ice avalanches, and then the snow and ice melts…there’s going to be emission of fecal matter that’s been stored up over years and decades.”
Nepal’s government has not come up with a plan to tackle the issue yet. But starting this season, officials stationed at the base camp will strictly monitor garbage collection on the peak. The government did impose new rules last year requiring each climber to bring down 8 kilos of trash to the base camp – the average amount of garbage a climber generally disposes of during a climb and back.