Nepal: Army removes eleven tonnes of rubbish from Himalayan peaks

The Nepalese army has removed eleven tonnes of rubbish, four corpses, and one skeleton from Mount Everest and two other Himalayan peaks this year. The clean-up operation at Himalayan peaks, which took 55 days, covered Everest, Nuptse, and Lhotse mountains. It is estimated that Everest alone holds over fifty tonnes of waste and more than 200 bodies.

Since 2019, the Nepalese army has conducted annual clean-ups due to concerns about overcrowding and the dangerous conditions faced by climbers queuing to reach the summit. Over five clean-ups, the army has collected 119 tonnes of rubbish, 14 human corpses, and several skeletons.

This year, authorities aimed to reduce rubbish and improve rescues by making climbers wear tracking devices and take responsibility for their waste. Future plans include creating a mountain rangers team to monitor rubbish and increasing funding for its collection, according to Rakesh Gurung, Nepal’s Department of Tourism director of mountaineering. During the spring climbing season, which ended in May, the government issued permits to 421 climbers, a decrease from the 478 issued last year, excluding Nepalese guides. An estimated 600 people climbed Everest this year.

This year, eight climbers died or went missing, compared to 19 last year. Among those missing are Briton Daniel Paterson and his Nepalese guide, Pastenji Sherpa, who were hit by falling ice on May 21. Paterson’s family started a fundraiser to hire a search team but announced on June 4 that recovery is not currently possible due to the dangerous location of the incident.

The lower number of permits this year is attributed to the global economic situation, permits issued by China, and India’s national election, which reduced the number of climbers from that country. The number of permits is expected to decline further after Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government in May to limit permits, although no maximum number was specified. Mr. Gurung supports the order and mentions that the government is considering reforms such as staggering climbers to reduce summit traffic jams. The government plans to work with experts to determine a safe number of climbers for Everest, as Mr. Gurung emphasized the need for a scientific study to establish the ideal number.

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