Nepal to Force Everest Climbers to Collect Rubbish
The world's 14 "eight-thousanders" -- mountains taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) -- are all located in Asia. On one hand, they really beautify a horizon, but on the other they present a fierce, at times fatal, challenge to mountain climbers. Beauty can, indeed, be deadly. Here's the "baby" of the bunch, Shishapangma in Tibet, peaking at 8,027 meters (26,335 feet).
This is Gasherbrum II (we'll have another Gasherbrum coming up shortly), on the border of Pakistan and China. It's 8,035 meters up in the sky (26,361 feet) and is sometimes known as K4. These mountaineers are near the summit.
Ed Darack/Science Faction/Corbis
On the left side of this picture we see the sheer mass of Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain on the planet at 8,047 meters or 26,394 feet above sea level.
As promised, here's another Gasherbrum: Gasherbrum I. (Gasherbrum, translated from the Tibetan language Balti, means "beautiful mountain.") It also goes by the name of K5, lives along the China-Pakistan border and is 8,080 meters (26,444 ft) high.
The Himalayan mountain range Annapurna, in Nepal, is seen here from Pkhara, about 124 miles (200 kilometers) west of Kathmandu. Annapurna is considered one of the most dangerous for climbers; first crested in 1950, it has since been climbed by more than 100 people but taken 53 lives along the way.
This somewhat unsettling photo was taken in 1931 by mountaineers at a base camp on Pakistan's Nanga Parbat, the ninth-tallest eight-thousander at 8,126 meters (26,660 feet). The area captured in the picture is known as the Nanga Wall.
Association Chantal Mauduit Namaste/Corbis/Sygma
Eighth-tallest of the eight-thousanders is Nepal's Manaslu, at 8,163 meters (26,781 feet).
The Dhaulagiri mountain range in the Himalayas sports a rather volcanic look in this picture, with the sun brushing its top. But Nepal's 8,167-meter (26,795-foot) monster is of course quite chilly on top. Dhaulagiri's south face is considered by mountaineers to be a next-to-impossible climb, and no one has ever topped the mountain from that side.
Clouds hover over snow-covered Cho Oyu mountain in Tibet. The sixth-tallest mountain stands 8,201 meters tall (26,906 feet), and the "Mountain Goddess" (in Tibetan translation) is considered one of less-challenging climbs among the eight-thousanders (if you don't consider climbing ANY mountain a challenge, that is!).
Next in the eight-thousander club is Makalu, the fifth-highest mountain in the world, looming on the border between Nepal and China. It's 8,463 meters (27,766 feet) tall and is another tough climb, with 22 deaths tallied against its 206 successful climbs.
Pal Teravagimov Photography
Standing 8,516 meters tall (27,940 feet), Lhotse, fourth-tallest, rests on the border of Nepal and Tibet. It was first climbed in 1956.
Kangchenjunga, in Nepal, is the world's third-tallest mountain, edging Lhotse by just 71 meters, standing 8,587 meters tall (28,169 feet). It's a prominent mark on the horizon in Darjeeling, the tea-growing region.
K2, the second-tallest mountain on the planet, is 8,611 meters up in the clouds (28,251 feet) along the China-Pakistan border. Climbers know it for its incredibly difficult ascent routes; in 2008, an ice fall on the treacherous slopes took the lives of 11 climbers.
And now we reach the Big Daddy in the worldwide mountains club. That, of course, would be Mount Everest. Its name alone is synonymous with challenging feats, as climbing it continues to this day to be a dicey endeavor, though it draws people year after year to attempt the ascent. And what a climb: Mount Everest stands 8,848 meters tall (29,029 feet). It was famously crested for the first time in 1953 by New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay.
Climbers on Mount Everest will be forced to bring back eight kilograms (17.6 pounds) of garbage, an official said Monday, to clean up a peak that has become the world's highest rubbish dump.
The rule, one of several new measures covering mountaineering in the Himalayan nation, will apply to climbers ascending beyond Everest's base camp from April onwards, said tourism ministry official Madhusudan Burlakoti.
"The government has decided in order to clean up Mount Everest that each member of an expedition must bring back at least eight kilos of garbage, apart from their own trash," he said.
Burlakoti, who is joint secretary at the ministry, said authorities would take legal action against climbers who failed to comply with the new rule, although it was unclear whether this would involve a fine or the confiscation of their mandatory deposit.
Decades of mountaineering have taken a toll on the world's highest peak, which is strewn with rubbish from past expeditions, including oxygen cylinders, human waste and even climbers' bodies, which do not decompose in the extreme cold.
Last month Nepal slashed fees for individual climbers on the famed mountain and other Himalayan peaks to attract more mountaineers, sparking concerns of increased traffic and more garbage.
Everest, scaled for the first time by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, is a key revenue-earner for the impoverished country, with hundreds heading there every year during the peak climbing season in April and May.
Under the new rules Everest expeditions will have to take their trash to an office which will be set up next month at base camp.
The office will also offer medical aid and resolve conflicts, with soldiers and police on duty to avoid a repeat of the brawl between European climbers and local guides last year which shocked the mountaineering community.
Will it Be Enforced?
Dawa Sherpa, expedition manager at Asian Trekking which organises an annual clean-up tour to Everest, said the proposal was "an encouraging measure to try and keep the mountain clean".
The Eco Everest Expedition has collected some 15 tonnes of garbage, 600 kg of human waste and six bodies since 2008, Sherpa said.
He said local Sherpa guides could collect and deliver trash to base camp instead of returning empty-handed from acclimatisation ascents to set up tents for foreign climbers on the mountain.
"Ultimately, the success of the regulation will depend on how strictly officials monitor its progress," he said.
Although expeditions currently have to fork out a $4,000 deposit, refunded once they show they have brought back everything they took up the mountain, enforcement has been a problem.
"Our earlier efforts have not been very effective. This time, if climbers don't bring back garbage, we will take legal action and penalize them," tourism official Burlakoti said.
The government is also considering plans to build toilets at base camp, where the shifting ice means structures are at risk of falling down.
In an overhaul of security on the mountain, soldiers and police will be stationed at the new office at base camp so climbers can approach them with any problems, officials said last month.
Environmental and climbing groups have long sought to focus attention on the mess left behind by expeditions while clean-up projects have also been organized.
Discarded oxygen and cooking gas cylinders, ropes, tents, glasses, beer cans, plastic and even the remains of a helicopter made up 75 artworks commissioned for a Kathmandu exhibition in 2012, highlighting the environmental impact of alpine tourism.