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Everest: Top Sherpas slam Nepal’s plan to clean rubbish from mountain


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Mount Everest attracts climbers from all over the world, with large queues forming at busy times

A plan to clear 35,000kg of rubbish from Everest and five other Himalayan peaks has been slammed by some of Nepal’s leading mountaineers.

The government says the army will be used for the task, which will cost 860 million Nepali rupees ($7.5m; £5.7m).

Last year, they managed to clear about 10,000kg of waste from the region.

But Kami Rita Sherpa – who has scaled the world’s highest mountain a record 24 times – says they do not have the skills to reach the highest points.

“They collected garbage from lower altitudes,” Sherpa told BBC Nepali, adding: “They should mobilise Sherpas to clean up garbage from higher elevations.

“Only Sherpa guides and porters can do that. They should be given proper compensation to clean up the mountains.”

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The six peaks – Everest, Lhotse, Pumori, Amadablam, Makalu and Dhaulagiri – attract climbers from around the world each year, who often abandon oxygen and cooking gas cylinders, climbing gear and other rubbish like food wrappers, cans and bottles in their attempts to reach the summits.

But the climbs are not without danger, and numerous people die each year – Everest saw 11 deaths in 2019. Many of the bodies are left on the mountains, so need to be brought down as part of the clean up.

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Media captionEleven tonnes of rubbish found on Everest

But it is particularly difficult to bring items down from the higher reaches. In some cases, bodies and rubbish have lain for decades in the snow and ice.

“Climbing Sherpas are the right people to clean up the peaks,” Purba Tashi Sherpa, who’s scaled Everest 21 times, said. “The government should keep that in mind.”

Nepali Army spokesman Bigyan Dev Pandey said he was confident his team would be able to reach the upper areas during this year’s clean up, which ends on 5 June.

“We are learning from our mistakes and working hard to clean up the mountains, including the higher elevations.” he told BBC Nepali.

Nepal’s government has also brought in measures to encourage people not to litter, asking for a $400 deposit, which is returned if they bring their waste back down with them.

But it is not easy, the Sherpas acknowledge. Even with their skills, they can struggle.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, the former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, told BBC Nepali: “It’s really hard to bring back heavy cylinders or dead bodies from the higher camps.

“Sherpa often risk their lives to do so. Most of the iced bodies weigh as much as 150kg, and that looks impossible for Sherpas to bring down.”

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