CLIMBING SEASON on Mount Everest started this week and, like previous years, in the next two months, more than 300 climbers and as many guides will attempt to conquer the famous mountain. But, that’s not all they’ll be doing. They’ll also be leaving large amounts of urine and faeces on the slopes of what should be a pristine peak.

Ang Tshering, chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association said Tuesday: “Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there” (in accordance to the association’s detailed trekking guide), but it has been “piling up” for years and is not decomposing properly.

Not only does the amount of human waste ruin the beauty of the area and leaves an unpleasant odour, but it also presents a health hazard to the populations depending on the water from rivers fed by the region’s melting glaciers“, a sherpa explained to the CBC.

In 2014, the Nepali governement imposed a rule stating that each climber should bring back at least 8 kg of waste products (human waste included) from their expedition. Failing to do so would result in their $4,000 deposit to be forfeited. This year, this rule will be stricly enforced.
Some climbers already carry disposable travel toilet bags, which are the best solution to prevent the spreading of diseases on the world’s highest peak.

Although the consequences of the poor disposal of faeces are far more dangerous than the dumping of other detritus, the CBC explains that, “Eco-Everest clean-up expeditions, led by Dawa Steven Sherpa each year since 2008, have retrieved 15,000 kg (33,070 lbs) of trash”.