So over Christmas and New Year 2013/14 I went trekking in Nepal and Bhutan. One of those bucket list things I suppose. Although I faced some issues with the people there (another story for another blog entry), the natural beauty of the place is just mindblowing. Personally, I thought the mountains in Nepal were quite clean compared to some of the other places I’ve been trekking before.
Today I came across a news story that suggests those going to summit Everest are going to be forced to “clean up” and bring down an additional 8kg of garbage with them on the way down. I appreciate the ideology behind it, but it concerns me from a safety perspective.
My time trekking in Nepal was spent going from Lukla, through to Namche Bazar, up to Gokyo, across Cho La Pass to Everest Base Camp, and then working my way back down to Lukla. I did this in the middle of winter, the weather was terrible. And I struggled. So did the experienced guide and porter I hired. Honestly, the day we had to cross Cho La Pass was a nightmare, and when we got to the other side, everyone said we shouldn’t have done it. My guide said we’d be safe, and while we made it, we should never have attempted it under the conditions. Safety is not their top priority, getting back to Lukla as quickly as possible so that they can find their next paying customer is…
Bearing in mind that this was a relatively straight forward trekking trip. And we struggled with the minimal amount of stuff we had. Now imagine having to go further up Everest than base camp, while carrying more gear just to get up there? Then being told that “hey, on the way back down you have to carry an extra 8kg of rubbish that you collect along the way, otherwise you’re going to be punished“? I can see this leading to further tragedy. These summit expeditions have to carry so much gear as it is, and now they’re being forced to carry more?
Look, I can totally understand the need to clean up the areas higher than base camp. I’ve not been much higher, so I don’t know how bad the rubbish situation really is. But at what expense? Someone’s life? No way.
Maybe there should be special expeditions each year that are not intended to summit that just go up and collect the rubbish left over from peak climbing season? Though that would require the locals to actually invest some money, which I can’t see happening. They’re all about getting everyone else to pay for things and not taking any responsibility.
I’m going to stop now, because that’s a long rant for another blog entry.