Sherpa complaint: climbers leaving Everest a cesspit

As the numbers of climbers rise to several hundred a year on Mount Everest, local guides and residents are complaining that the issue of human waste (for which there are no real facilities at the climbing camps) is creating a disgusting and unhealthy condition.

 

Recent changes in rules require climbers to bag and carry down, but they are hard to enforce, and it is not clear what measures will succeed. MORE from the Telegraph (UK)

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Sadly there's nothing new with this.  Everest has had problems with rubbish and human waste for over 50 years.  The better tour companies have started packing out the rubbish using Sherpas and yaks (same ones who bring supplies in take the trash out), but the Khumbu has limited resources to handle all the wrapping and plastics and the like.  Human waste is more of a problem as it requires warm weather to biodegrade and it just doesn't get warm enough here at Everest Base Camp (almost 4 miles above sea level) for that to happen.

 

Something nobody likes to talk about are all the dead bodies on Everest.  About 10% of those who climb the mountain don't come back.  Stats might have improved slightly in the past decade but all it takes is one bad storm to even the odds.  If you die on the mountain, there's no feasible way to get you down.  Except with time and weather.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

It isn't only the Sherpas who have something to complain about, and it's not just the relative few who are there to summit.  Many more tourists pay big money to be conducted to Base Camp 1 (I believe is the designation).  Described to me recently by a friend, Travel Pal Jim, who was suffering the effects of food poisoning to compound the issue, along the way the facilities are exceedingly substandard "teahouse" accommodations and on the trail there are no toilets.  One simply goes off the trail and does what one does in full view of the parade passing by.  Entities (tour companies, the government of Nepal) are making money, none of which is being spent to make the experience acceptable for anyone.  And in the meantime, it won't be the paying tourists carrying their baggies up and down the mountain.  It will surely be added to the loads of the already overburdened porters.

I've found similar nearly nonexistent toilet conditions in many of the poorer countries I've visited in my life.  Again a difference here might be the altitude.  Human waste decomposes quickly in a warm wet environment, but slowly in conditions like you find in the Khumbu.  Sir Edmund Hillary's organization has done much to improve the lives of the Sherpa people, especially build good strong bridges across raging rivers, schools and medical clinics.  Our Sherpa guide told us "Sir Edmund is our government". 

 

But no toilets except within the most top end establishments (there are a few nice teahouses, but many are dirty and suboptimal).

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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