New personal hygiene challenge for Everest

A team of mountaineers unveiled plans on Thursday for what could be the most environmentally friendly attempt yet at scaling Everest — where even bodily waste will not be left behind.

Expedition leader Dawa Steven Sherpa said his 11-strong team will road test a United States-developed “Clean Mountain Can”, essentially a very strong, water-tight bucket that can be strapped on to backpacks.

The idea, he said, was spawned last year when he spotted human waste high on a peak that the local Sherpa community and Tibetans consider to be sacred.

“We were looking around and thinking, ‘This is a holy mountain, something has to be done. This is disgusting,'” Sherpa told reporters in Kathmandu.

Years of commercial expeditions have left the 8 848m peak littered with ropes and equipment, oxygen bottles and rubbish — a problem Sherpa also wants address.

“Sherpas go up the mountain and they take a big load, and when they drop their load they come down empty. So I am going to give them a financial incentive to bring down garbage,” the 23-year-old expedition leader said.

A fund has been established and will pay a dollar per kilo of waste brought down, and with $3 000 already donated, Sherpa thinks he can bring at least three of the estimated 10 tonnes of garbage that still litters the peak.

One of at least 27 expeditions trying for the summit during the main season in May, Sherpa hopes other expeditions will follow his lead.

“I am going to be there for two months. That’s enough time for me to nag them and nag them and nag them until they finally do adhere to what I think is the right way to go,” he said.

Sherpa will be testing other eco-friendly products at base camp including solar powered cookers and ovens instead of those that run of gas and kerosene.

Since it was first climbed in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, Everest has been summitted more than 3 000 times. – AFP

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