Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.
News from 2006:
Prakash Sharma, director of Friends of the Earth Nepal, believes that, while many of the Western charity groups who trek to the foot of the mountain may be doing so for honourable causes, they are not considering the environmental consequences. ‘The exponential increase in pollution and other negative environmental situations on Mount Everest is a direct result of the massive increase in visitors to the region,’ he said. ‘The Khumbu region and the city of Kathmandu can comfortably hold about 40,000 people. In the coming months, during peak tourist season in the lower valley, there will be as many as 700,000.
‘Twenty to forty thousand of these people attempt, at some altitude, to ascend the mountains of the Himalayas, including thousands who will at least trek to the foot of Everest. There is no infrastructure in this region to cope with the pollution this many people generate, and as a result the Nepali Himalayas have become the highest junkyard in the world.’
Sharma claims that the tonnes of rubbish on Everest include climbing equipment, foods, plastics, tins, aluminium cans, glass, clothes, papers, tents and even discarded electronic equipment such as satellite dishes. Some climbers have reported finding bloody syringes and vials of unlabelled medications. Other campaigners claim the dead body count on the mountain, 188 according to varying estimates, is enough reason to temporarily close it.
But the sherpas who earn their living from the perilous work of guiding adventurers to the summit vociferously oppose any reduction in climbing permits. Ang Dawa, a Sherpa guide in Kathmandu, said: ‘For us it is simple. There are tens of thousands of people in the region who solely depend on the trekkers and mountaineers for their income. If they don’t come, these people and their families will starve. A sherpa who summits on Everest is looking at making a minimum of £1,600 for 60 days’ work. That’s a lot of money in Nepal – it can support an entire village.’
Nepalese officials claim, despite the UN report and environmentalist warnings, that they have no immediate plans to close down the mountain. ‘All climbers are welcome as long as long as they are willing to pay,’ a government spokesman said. Critics say it is no surprise that the Nepali authorities have no plans to scale back tourism in the region. To even set foot on the slopes of Everest, each team of seven climbers must pay a royalty of £50,000 to the Nepalese government.