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article imageMt Everest: Climb of a lifetime, or filthy garbage dump?

By Anne Sewell     May 30, 2013 in World
As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund HIllary's ascent to the top of Mt Everest, environmentalists are complaining about the disgusting mess up there, including loads of human excrement and even the odd corpse.
In the decades since Sir Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, made that historic climb to the top, a lot has happened on the famous mountain.
According to mountaineer Graham Hoyland, with around 3,500 said to have reached the top after Hillary, Everest is apparently no longer "a wilderness experience, it's a McDonald's experience."
That was talking about the successful climbs. There have apparently been 5,600 attempts to climb Everest, and 210 deaths since 1953.
Reportedly there are around 35 expeditions to reach the 29,029-foot Everest peak in a typical year. According to one climber, Ayisha Jessa of London, "There were just people everywhere."
Views of Mt Everest
Views of Mt Everest
Temba Tsheri Sherpa runs an expedition company at Everest. He told AFP that climbing Everest has become like a sporting event for the wealthy:
"Everest has turned into a playground for people with all sorts of interests,” he said. “All they want is to set new records and they seem to be willing to pay thousands of dollars in order to fulfill their dreams."
With so many people trying to get to the top, some 13 tons of garbage have been left behind since 2008. The Eco Everest Expedition does an annual cleanup and say that the refuse littering the slopes includes empty oxygen bottles and torn tents, and a whole heap of human waste.
Climber Mark Jenkins told National Geographic, "The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are not only dangerously crowded but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps."
Just this year, 4.4 tons of garbage have been picked up by a joint Indian-Nepali team, and apparently 2.5 tons of that garbage can be classified as "bio-hazardous waste."
Sometimes the garbage is used for good, however, as 1.5 tons brought down by climbers, and collected by 15 artists from Nepal have been used to create 74 pieces of art. The haul included oxygen cylinders and scraps from a crashed helicopter from back in the 1970s.
The artwork is sold at prices which range from $17 to $2,400, with some of the proceeds going to the Everest Summiteers Association, which was involved in the project and was the very first group to organize an Everest clean-up back in 2005.
Diwas Pokhrel, general secretary for the group said, "Each expedition to Everest is required to take a garbage deposit and bring their waste back."
"But this system has not been strictly implemented," he added.
Experts estimate that around 10 tons of garbage are still up there. Jenkins continued in the article for National Geographic by saying that, "You can't necessarily blame the climbers, especially inexperienced ones, for their littering habit."
"Even under the best conditions, climbing the tallest mountain in the world is exhausting, dangerous work. Dropping used supplies on the mountain rather than carrying it with them can save vital energy and weight... But the accumulated trash is still steadily ruining one of the most unique places on Earth."
Not only is there garbage and excrement up there, however, as reportedly around 240 people have died while trying to get to the top, and most of their corpses are still up there. These brave souls will remain frozen in the "death zone" which starts 26,000 feet up pretty much forever.
Other recent Mt Everest news:
Russian daredevil breaks Everest record with highest BASE jump
In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary's first ascent, the video shows a Russian extreme sports star performing the world's highest BASE jump, off the north face of Everest...
Valery Rozov  extreme sports star  performs the world s highest BASE-jump from the summit of Mount E...
Valery Rozov, extreme sports star, performs the world's highest BASE-jump from the summit of Mount Everest.
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