Thursday, October 7, 2010

Trash, Bodies Litter the Slopes of Everest

A sherpa sorting trash on Everest
Photo Credit: Cory Richards
The photo to the left says a lot. Climate change has led to melting ice on the slopes of Everest, revealing the detritus of 60 years of climbing expeditions. Much of the trash dumped is in the “death zone” above 26,000 feet where oxygen levels are low and it is easier to drop and leave an expended oxygen tank than to worry about the impact such litter might have. There have been several efforts to remove waste from the peak's upper levels, and several tons have been removed, but much still remains.

Nepalis, who view the mountain as a holy site, are also concerned about the number of corpses that have been collecting on the peak.  80 climbers have died on Everest above the two base camps that service both sides of the mountain since 1996.  South Base Camp, which is on the Nepal side, rests at 5,360 meters (17,590 ft); North Base Camp, in Tibet, is at 5,545 meters (18,192 ft).  Do to the difficulty in removing the bodies, most are left in the spot they died.  In May of this year, the bodies of Swiss and Russian climbers were brought down, along with a pair of unidentified arms, though one arm was still wearing a watch.


UPDATE: Thought some of you might like this additional factoid:  "Of the­ 189 people who have died in their attempts [to climb everest], an estimated 120 of them remain there."


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