By Mark – When I was a young lad (16 /17’ ish), I was ‘into’ mountaineering in a big way. Then, I can remember reading and enjoying ‘Everest the Hard Way’ by British mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_British_Mount_Everest_Southwest_Face_expedition
– a beautiful book detailing the 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition, which was the first to successfully climb Mount Everest by ascending the South West face. For me, being young and influential I guess you could say; this was a trip into the unknown – the High Himalaya; mystery, danger, Rhododendron forests; the big unknown – all the things that gripped me and let my imagination do overtime.
If you ever get the chance, then read it – superb !
Decades later it was still ‘a thing’ with me; and finally, I made it to the big walls of El Cap and Half Dome in the incredible ‘Yosemite Valley’ in California.
Below – El Cap
and Half Dome
This morning (16/1/21) on the BBC; I watched a news story about how Everest was being turned into the highest rubbish tip on the planet. My dreams of the magic of the few reaching the summit of the worlds highest mountain was well and truly shattered in learning that each year nowdays, around 900 – 1,000 people make it to the summit during the March – May period when they are only allowed to climb because of weather extremes at other times.
But even worse than ‘making the summit’ just being another ‘bragging’ item to be boasted about at the local; or at least I now view it in the modern non magical days, it was most sad for me to see that microplastics and human waste (literally), in the form of both rubbish, plastic bottles and shit; were now contaminating an enchanted, most sacred place that should still be the place of dreams for the very few that it was in the past.
Again, as always in my opinion, the wrecker called ‘man’ has managed to destroy the natural and majestic beauty of the Himalaya by leaving his personal calling card in a place that should be left in isolation, as what it was to me as a lad; that place of desolation and wonder; (then) untouched by the human being (fortunately) and a place of superfluous natural wonder and amazement.
So today, 16/1/21, I decided to look into the destruction a little more; and here below is what I found. You can check it out a lot more if you want to. Summary – Destruction by mankind as always with everything; it now seems that Everest is not the ‘Hard Way’ that it was in the 70’s; but yet another dumping ground made by the ‘many hundreds’. Take a look;
Below – bags and bags of human excrement (literally) on the mountain.
It’s being described as the ‘world’s highest rubbish dump’. That’s because Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, has a problem with climbers leaving their waste on the slopes – both rubbish and poo. The mountain is home to three tonnes of climbers’ rubbish, left by adventurers visiting the mountain.
The mountain is home to three tonnes of climbers’ rubbish, left by adventurers visiting the mountain. The waste includes tents and equipment left behind, as well as human waste from mountaineers who need to go to the loo while they’re up there.
As the climbing season comes to a close for another year, Nepal Army helicopters are being used to lift some of the waste off the mountain.
The problem is that the rubbish is not only bad for the environment, but it could also spread disease for other climbers on the mountain.
People living at Base Camp use melted snow for drinking water, which could be contaminated with germs if other climbers aren’t getting rid of their waste properly.
Some climbers carry disposable travel toilet bags to use in the higher camps, while at Base Camp, there are toilet tents which have special drums where human waste goes. These can be taken away from the mountain and emptied safely.
But the camps further up, between the base and the top of the mountain, don’t have loos, which is why waste is often left behind.
Climbers can only go up Mount Everest during a specific period of the year, which begins in March and ends in May. Throughout the rest of the year, the weather is too bad.
This means that it is more difficult to clear away any rubbish left on the mountain at the end of the climbing period.
It is impossible to know exactly how much litter is spread across Everest because it only becomes visible when the snow melts.
Speaking in the Himalayan Times, Dandu Raj Ghimire – director general for the Nepal Department of Tourism – said: “The clean-up campaign will be continued in the coming seasons to make the world’s tallest mountain clean. It is our responsibility to keep our mountains clean.”
What are the rules about rubbish on Everest?
Nepal’s government hasn’t made rules about dealing with poo up the mountain yet. However, it is trying to stop the amount of rubbish that is left on the slopes.
The government is working on a plan to scan and tag climbers’ equipment and gear.
All climbers would have to pay a deposit of $4,000 (£3,100) before they go up the mountain and might not get their money back if they return without their items.
Microplastic pollution found near summit of Mount Everest
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Humans now known to have polluted Earth from deepest ocean to highest peak
Microplastic pollution has been discovered in snow close to the peak of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. With plastic debris revealed in 2018 at the deepest point on Earth, the Mariana Trench, it is now clear that humanity’s litter has polluted the entire planet.
The tiny plastic fibres were found within a few hundred metres of the top of the 8,850-metre mountain, at a spot known as the balcony. Microplastics were found in all the snow samples collected from 11 locations on Everest, ranging from 5,300 metres to 8,440 metres high.
The highest concentrations of microplastics were found around Base Camp, where climbers and trekkers spend the most time. The fibres were most likely to have come from the clothing, tents and ropes used by mountaineers, the scientists said. Other recent discoveries of microplastic pollution in remote parts of the Swiss Alps and French Pyrenees indicate the particles can also be carried by the wind from further afield.
“It really surprised me to find microplastics in every single snow sample I analysed,” said Imogen Napper, at the University of Plymouth, who led the new research. “Mount Everest is somewhere I have always considered remote and pristine. To know we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain is a real eye-opener.”
Below – Majestic Everest
“With microplastics so ubiquitous in our environment, it’s time to focus on appropriate environmental solutions,” she said. “We need to protect and care for our planet.”
Reducing, reusing and recycling larger items of plastic waste is important, Napper said, as they can be broken down into microplastics when discarded into the environment. But many microplastics are shed from clothing made from synthetic fabrics, and she said a focus on better fabrics was needed, as well as using natural fibres such as cotton when possible.
Millions of tonnes of plastic are lost into the environment every year. It can contain toxic additives and carry harmful microbes and is known to injure wildlife that mistake it for food.
People also consume microplastics via food and water, and breathe them in, although the health impact is not yet known.
There have been longstanding concerns about litter on Everest, which was climbed by at least 880 people in 2019. But the new study is the first to assess microplastic pollution, which is less than 5mm in size and therefore too small to be picked up.
The study, published in the journal One Earth, analysed samples collected by a National Geographic expedition in 2019. The scientists found an average of 30 microplastic particles per litre of water in the snow samples and 119 particles per litre in the most contaminated sample. They also assessed stream water samples from eight locations, but only three had microplastics, perhaps as the streams were able to wash away contamination.
In her previous work, Napper has found that each cycle of a washing machine can release 700,000 microscopic plastic fibres, and that plastic bags that claim to be biodegradable were still intact after three years in the natural environment.