Human waste left by the over 700 people who climb Mount Everest annually is starting to cause pollution and sanitation issues, officials said.
Human waste left by climbers on Mount Everest has become a major environmental and health issue, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association Ang Tshering said Tuesday.
More than 700 people visit the famous peak every season, spending about two months there, and they leave behind feces and urine, which has accumulated over the years, the Associated Press reported.
The mountaineering season begins this week and lasts until May. Last year’s season was cancelled after a major avalanche in April killed 16 guides.
There are four base camps where climbers gather — none of which have toilets.
“Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there,” Ang Tshering said. She added that the dumps have been piling up, threatening to spread disease.
Dawa Steven Sherpa, who leads cleanup expeditions on the mountain, said some people bring travel toilet bags to the campsites.
“It is a health hazard and the issue needs to be addressed,” he said.
Nepal’s government has not yet come up with a plan to tackle the issue, but officials said they would strictly monitor garbage on the mountain.
The government started a new rule last year that each climber must bring down 18 pounds of trash, the amount estimated a climber uses, while ascending the mountain.
Climbing teams must leave a $4,000 deposit, which they do not get back, if they do not comply with the requirments, said Puspa Raj Katuwal, the head of the government’s Mountaineering Department.