Instead, private trekking companies organize logistics and report any problems. They are also left to clear the trash, launching yearly expeditions to bring down whatever hasn’t been covered over by ice and snow since the last season’s climbers tossed the refuse to the side.
“There is no way to say how much garbage is still left on Everest,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been leading Eco Everest Expeditions since 2008 and plans this year’s effort to include about 30 foreign climbers and 45 Nepalis. “It is impossible to say what is under the ice.”
Still, Sherpas and environmentalists applauded the government’s new cleanup rules.
“This is a rule that should have been introduced a long time back,” said Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association. “It is going to make sure that climbers obey the rules.”
Nepalese — who consider the mountain they call Sagarmatha to be sacred — sometimes attribute climbing deaths to bad karma earned through disrespecting the mountain. The Nepali language name Sagarmatha means “forehead of the sky,” while the Tibetan name for Everest is Chomolangma, or “goddess of the snow.”
For the government, the mountain is the centerpiece of tourism industry which earns the country $3.3 million each year in climbing fees alone. The industry also supports tens of thousands of Nepalese hotel owners, trekking guides and porters.
If the garbage-checking tent at Everest base camp is successful, the model will be rolled out to other climbing routes, the Tourism Ministry said.
The nine officials being posted to Everest base camp will also be better able to help distressed climbers or resolve disputes, such the fist fight that broke out last year between three European climbers and several Sherpa guides over safe climbing procedures.
“They will be there for the safety of the climbers,” Burlakoti said. “In case of medical emergency or disaster, these officers would be able to respond.”