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article imageHuman waste on Everest is becoming a major problem

By James Walker     Mar 3, 2015 in World
Officials in Nepal have warned that human waste building up on Mount Everest is becoming a major problem that could begin to spread disease on top of the world's highest mountain.
Over 700 climbers and their guides climb Everest's slopes each climbing season. Typically staying on the peak for around two months, they end up leaving large amounts of human urine and faeces behind them.
The four camps between base camp and the 29,035ft summit are equipped with tents and essential equipment and supplies but they do not have toilets. This itself derives from the issue of what to do with the waste.
Climbers have to dig holes in the snow before going to the toilet but the cold soon freezes the waste. Because of this, relatively large amounts of waste have been building up on the slopes. Only a few mountaineers carry disposable travel toilet bags.
This is now posing a problem to Nepalese officials. Nepal's government wants the mountain to remain in pristine condition, meaning that a way to dispose of the waste must be found.
As of last year, each person to ascend the peak must return with at least 18 pounds of rubbish. This is the estimated amount that a climber discards along the route.
The government has not yet found a way to tackle the human waste issue though. From this season, officials stationed at the Everest base camp will begin strictly monitoring the waste and garbage on the mountain.
Dawa Steven Sherpa, leader of Everest "cleanup" expeditions since 2008, expressed concern on the gradual build-up, saying: “It is a health hazard and the issue needs to be addressed.”
Ang Tshering, leader of Nepal's mountaineering association, echoed these sentiments. It is generally agreed that polluting the slopes of the world's highest peak must be avoided but achieving this in a feasible manner could prove tricky to establish.
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