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article imageMount Everest 'death zone' to get a clean-up

By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 20, 2010 in Environment
Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, will be cleaned up, thanks to the efforts of twenty Nepali climbers involved with Extreme Everest Expedition 2010. The team is setting off this week to remove decades-old garbage from the mountain.
The expedition, led by Namgyal Sherpa, will clean in the area known as the “death zone” (above 26,246 feet), a part of the mountain that previous clean-up attempts have avoided.
According to Reuters, Sherpa has climbed Everest seven times, and stated: "This is the first time we are cleaning at that height, the death zone. It is very difficult and dangerous.”
The death zone gets its name from thin air, sub-freezing temperatures and extreme climbing conditions.
"The garbage was buried under snow in the past. But now it has come out on the surface because of the melting of snow due to global warming," the 30-year-old Sherpa said.
Many consider Everest to be the world’s highest garbage dump. Some climbers who summit or attempt to summit leave behind their trash and gear as they descend the mountain, too exhausted to pack out what they pack in.
Sherpa and his team, all seasoned climbers, will carry special bags and empty rucksacks to remove gas canisters, torn tents, empty oxygen bottles, ropes and utensils that clutter the area between the South Col and the 29,035 foot summit.
"The rubbish is creating problems for climbers ... Some items of garbage are from Hillary's time," Sherpa added. The team will attempt to remove at least 4,400 pounds of garbage during the expedition.
New Zealand’s Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Nepal were the first to reach Everest’s summit in 1953, opening the door for tourism in Nepal.
More than 4,000 climbers have reached Mount Everest’s summit since that historical achievement. Tourism and mountain climbing are a key component to Nepal’s revenues. It is among the world’s poorest countries.
A special effort is being made to remove the body of a Swiss climber who died on the mountain in a 2008 climbing attempt.
"We'll bring down the body of a Swiss climber who died in the mountain in 2008 and cremate it below the base camp for which we have got the family's consent," Sherpa said.
Mission objectives for the team include the collection of waste above 8,000 meters left by previous expeditions, setting an example for future climbers, conducting an environmental assessment on the effects of global warming in mountain areas, and helping promote tourism in Nepal.
The clean-up effort is part of a 40-day program scheduled to run April 24 to June 4.
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