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Cleaning Up “The World’s Highest Junkyard”

Trash and human poop are making Everest a dump, but these new projects aim to de-muck the mountain.

Photo by shrimpo1967 via Wikimedia Commons

A lot has changed since Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary first scaled the freezing peaks of Mount Everest in 1953. For one thing, attempting to summit Everest, though still perilous, has become a sort of rite of passage for X-treme yuppie adventurer types. More than 4,000 people have now climbed the mountain. As a result of this growing tourist popularity, Everest has also become covered in garbage and human poop (the most dangerous of all the poops). As GOOD’s Tasbeeh Herwees put it earlier this month, “For every moneyed thrill-seeker who thinks climbing Mount Everest is a novel post-college adventure, there is a mound of human waste sitting on top of the mountain to account for their privilege.” And fecal matter is just the tip of the shit pile; the Himalayan mountain is covered with the strewn trash of expeditions past, including, according to the Daily Mail India, “tents, sleeping bags, oxygen cylinders, and even the corpses of climbers who never made it down.” Now, two new cleanup efforts are underway—one an Indian army mountaineering team that aims to clean up litter, and the other a pioneering project to turn tourist dung into a source of energy.

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