Rubbish on Mount Everest

From afar, Mount Everest appears to be a beautiful, pristine mountain that many people would love to climb and experience for themselves. But, what many do not realize is that up close, the mountainside is scattered with rubbish and unfortunately bodies of past climbers. Over the past few decades, past climbers have left behind tons of rubbish from all of the supplies and gear that they carried with them up the slopes. It’s been estimated that climbers will leave about 120 tons of trash behind each year. And sadly, about 200 climbers have perished on the mountainside as well, adding to the debris problem.

Since the only people to brave the treacherous slopes are mountain climbers, majority of the rubbish consists of oxygen tanks, tents, eating utensils, helicopter parts, and a plethora of other rubbish. The overwhelming amount of rubbish has started to make it difficult for new and experienced climbers to climb up the already dangerous mountainside. The garbage adds more danger to the climb by potentially causing unnecessary accidents.

After many decades of rubbish building up, many people are now taking the initiative to help clean up the slopes of Mount Everest.

In the past few years, many expedition groups have climbed the mountain to collect the rubbish that is lying around, but recently a group of Nepali climbers made one of the most successful trips, clearing over 8 tons of trash. This was the first time a mission was able to go into the “death zone”, or above 8000 meters, and collect the rubbish that was residing there. The higher elevation areas are when pieces of rubbish become the biggest problem. The reason being is that at this high altitude past climbers were not too worried about picking up after themselves, they were more worried about surviving the harsh conditions and staying alive.

Therefore, some of the greatest amounts of rubbish on Mount Everest are located in the “death zone”. Even though many efforts and expeditions have been very successful in collecting rubbish from this area, it is estimated that about 50 tons of rubbish still remains. Continual efforts will be made to keep the mountain clean, but if climbers continue to leave debris all over the slopes it will be an everlasting battle.

Rubbish on Mount Everest
© NAMGYAL SHERPA/AFP/Getty Images

As the rubbish accumulates and is brought down from the mountain slopes, some groups are actually creating wonderful art from it. In one trash collecting expedition, 1.5 tons of rubbish was actually transformed into a variety of different Nepali works of art. The artwork included many different elaborate sculptures made entirely out of rubbish. These artistic pieces are a great example of a way to use someone else’s rubbish to create wonderful treasures.

While this is a creative use of the rubbish brought down from Mount Everest the majority of it is carried and discarded elsewhere.